US stocks open higher on retail sales increase

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

U.S. stocks opened higher on Monday following news that U.S. retail sales in March rose by the largest amount in 18 months. Citigroup also turned in better-than-expected quarterly results, helping cheer investors anticipating a sluggish earnings season.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,827 in the first half-hour of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 84 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,111. The Nasdaq added 30 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,029.

The S&P 500 dropped 2.7 percent last week, its worst weekly showing since January. The Nasdaq composite notched its third consecutive weekly decline.

CITI: Citigroup reported a 2.5 percent increase in first-quarter profit. Both income and revenue beat Wall Street's expectations. The lender got a boost from improving results in its Citi Holdings unit, which is selling off assets such as mortgages that soured in the financial crisis. Citi's shares surged $1.90, or 4.2 percent, to $47.59.

SALES UP: Retail sales rose 1.1 percent in March, the best showing since September 2012, the Commerce Department reported. The government also revised February's figure to a 0.7 percent gain, more than double its previous estimate. Sales dropped in January and December.

OVERSEAS: Europe markets were little changed. Germany's DAX fell 0.1 percent while France's CAC-40 rose 0.04 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was flat. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note inched up to 2.64 percent from 2.63 percent late Friday. The price of crude oil slipped 15 cents to $103.56 a barrel. Gold rose $7 to $1,326.10 an ounce.