US stocks rise in morning trading ahead of busy week for earnings, Fed meeting on rates

EnergyAssociated Press

U.S. stocks mostly rose as trading opened Monday with investors looking ahead to a busy week for earnings news and a meeting by the Federal Reserve on interest rates.

The early move comes after big gains last week. The S&P 500 rose to yet another record, and the Nasdaq finally climbed back from its dot-com losses to hit its first high in fifteen years.

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KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 71 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,150 as of 10:02 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose nearly eight points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,125. The Nasdaq composite climbed 26 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,118.

EYE ON EARNINGS: In the S&P 500, 159 companies are expected to report quarterly results this week, including Ford, Visa, Pfizer and Exxon Mobil. Investors are anxious because falling oil prices and a strengthening dollar have hammered first-quarter results at some companies. Per-share earnings for the S&P 500 are expected to fall 1 percent compared to a year ago, according to S&P Capital IQ, a provider of financial data. That would be the first drop since 2009.

EYE ON APPLE: Investors are looking ahead to Apple's quarterly results, due out after markets close. Though still driven largely by iPhone sales, the world's No. 1 company by market value is being closely watched for signs of how its new Apple Watches are doing with customers.

U.S. ECONOMY: Investors were preparing for two-day meeting of the Fed board that starts Tuesday amid concern that data this week will show the U.S. economy weakened in the first quarter. The Fed has no plans to update forecasts. Still, the meeting "will be closely watched to see if markets had been too eager to push out Fed hike expectations, especially now that oil prices have pushed above $55/barrel," DBS said in a report.

EUROPE RISES: France's CAC-40 index rose 1.7 percent and Germany's DAX gained 1.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.6 percent.

Corporate news on Monday in Europe was dominated by a Deutsche Bank report that its profits had dropped by half and that it would reorganize its global operations.

GREECE: Investors took a lack of progress in Greece's bailout talks in stride. Greece's Yanis Varoufakis was rebuked Friday for failing to come up with a list of reforms that European creditors want before they release new loans. The eurozone's top official, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said he hoped "some extra urgency" will be injected into the process. Greece government is forecast to run out of money to pay its bills on another few weeks.

JAPAN DOWNGRADE: Fitch ratings agency said Monday it had cut its credit grade for Japan to A from A+ citing a lack of government reforms to the budget, weak growth, and high debt. The Japanese government has increased spending to kickstart growth but analysts say the plan has not been followed up sufficiently well with moves to control government debt. The rating announcement came after Tokyo's market closed.

ASIA'S DAY: Tokyo's Nikkei shed 0.2 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index rose 3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.3 percent. Seoul's Kospi declined 0.1 percent. India's Sensex fell 0.6 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude declined 10 cents to $57.05 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 49 cents to close at $57.15 in the previous session.

CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 119.34 yen from Friday's 118.95. The euro was mostly unchanged at $1.0869 from the previous session's $1.0870.


AP Writer Joe McDonald reported from Beijing.