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Stocks Move Mostly Higher In Morning Trading - U.S. Commentary


Following the pullback seen last Friday, stocks have moved mostly higher in morning trading on Monday. The major averages have all climbed firmly into positive territory, adding to the strong gains posted last week.

Currently, the major averages are holding on to notable gains. The Dow is up 181.46 points or 0.7 percent at 24,541.60, the Nasdaq is up 24.71 points or 0.4 percent at 7,131.36 and the S&P 500 is up 14.58 points or 0.6 percent at 2,670.88.

The strength on Wall Street partly reflects a positive reaction to earnings news from financial giant Bank of America (BAC).

Bank of America is currently posting a moderate gain after reporting first quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates on strong loan growth.

Positive sentiment may also have been generated by a report from the Commerce Department showing stronger than expected retail sales growth in the month of March.

The report said retail sales climbed by 0.6 percent in March after edging down by 0.1 percent in February. Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.4 percent.

Excluding a rebound in auto sales, retail sales edged up by 0.2 percent in March, matching the uptick seen in the previous month as well as economist estimates.

"Overall, consumer spending has been disappointing in 1Q18, which is partially weather-related, but today's report suggests the slowdown was transitory," said James Knightley, Chief International Economist at ING.

"We remain upbeat for the coming months," he added. "Consumer confidence is high, supported by strong employment gains, rising wages and tax cuts. As such we look for a more positive contribution from consumer spending to overall GDP growth in 2Q18."

Meanwhile, traders have largely shrugged off a separate report from the National Association of Home Builders unexpectedly showing a modest drop in homebuilder confidence in the month of April.

The report said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index edged down to 69 in April from 70 in March. Economists had expected the index to come in unchanged.

Transportation stocks have moved substantially higher in morning trading, resulting in a 2.4 percent jump by the Dow Jones Transportation Average.

Trucking company J.B. Hunt (JBHT) is leading the transportation sector after reporting better than expected first quarter revenues.

Brokerage, housing, and healthcare stocks are also seeing notable strength, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves on the day.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Monday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled by 1.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index is just below the unchanged line, the German DAX Index is down by 0.3 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.7 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed off their worst levels of the day but remain in negative territory. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 2.2 basis points at 2.851 percent.

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