While you were sleeping: US retail sales save day
Wall Street and equities in Europe decided to take their cues from a report showing better-than-expected US retail sales, though concern about the euro zone was not far away as Spain's bond yields climbed over 6 percent.
US retail sales rose 0.8 percent in March, bettering expectations for a 0.3 percent gain.
In afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.88 percent and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 0.16 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.55 percent as some investors took profits on Apple ahead of its earnings next week.
“The US is a better economic story,” Madelynn Matlock, who helps oversee about US$14.6 billion at Huntington Asset Advisors in Cincinnati, told Bloomberg News. “Retail sales showed that consumers are not being overwhelmed by gas prices. On top of that, corporate earnings should be at least respectable.”
Certainly respectable were Citigroup's first-quarter earnings, surpassing Wall Street's expectations as the bank slashed expenses and benefited from an improved economy.
"They continue to progress. They have headwinds that maybe only Bank of America has, but they seem to be managing those headwinds," Gary Townsend, CEO of Hill-Townsend Capital, told Reuters. "It's a good quarter without being as superlative as JPMorgan's was."
Unfortunately, not all data today were pointing in the right direction; separate reports today showed that manufacturing in the New York region grew at the slowest pace in five months in April, while confidence among US homebuilders dropped.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session with a 0.3 percent gain for the day.
The euro, however, suffered as Spain's borrowing costs continued to rise. The yield on Spain 10-year bond rose as high as 6.16 percent today, while the euro dropped below US$1.30.
“After three months that were calmer than expected, the euro crisis is back,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London, told Bloomberg. “The speed of the recent surge in yields has elements of a renewed market panic.”
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