New York Report: Citigroup and retail figures lift US stocks

US STOCKS closed higher yesterday as Citigroup’s earnings and strong retail sales gave investors reasons to buy equities despite a resurgence of geopolitical uncertainties.

Equities opened higher as strong results from Citigroup and bullish retail sales data lifted sentiment, though shares lost ground in the last hour of trading. Both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 briefly turned negative, but subsequently returned to positive territory.

Geopolitical concerns returned to the forefront after pro-Russian separatists ignored an ultimatum to leave occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine as a threatened military offensive by government forces failed to materialise. Rebels in the town of Slaviansk issued a bold call for Russian President Vladimir Putin to help them.

Citigroup led financial shares higher after the bank reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations, aided by a smaller loss on its troubled assets even as its revenue declined.

The stock rose 4.4 per cent to $47.67 while the S&P financial index climbed 0.8 per cent.

Among other financials, Bank of America shares rose 1.5 per cent to $16, while Morgan Stanley shot up 2.1 per cent to $29.06.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 146.49 points, or 0.91 per cent, to end at 16,173.24. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 14.92 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 1,830.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 22.96 points, or 0.57 per cent, to close at 4,022.69.