* Spike in Chinese inflation stirs overheating worries
* Jobless claims fall, trade gap narrows, exports dip
* Citi shares jump as CEO eyes sustainable profits
* Dow up 0.42 pct, S&P up 0.40 pct, Nasdaq up 0.40 pct
* For up-to-the-minute market news, click [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to close)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, March 11 The S&P 500 hit a 17-month closing
high as rising bank shares led a late rally that lifted U.S. stocks
on Thursday, more than offsetting worries China may move to cool its
Financial stocks added to recent sharp gains, helped in part by
the possibility new banking regulations being studied by U.S.
Congress could be watered down. The KBW bank index .BKX rose 1.7
percent to a fresh 16-month high of 50.92.
"There's an assessment now that the reform proposal will be
diluted and will not have all the strident language that was
initially thought," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at
Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.
Citigroup (C.N) shares, up 5.6 percent to $4.18, were among the
top gainers, after its chief executive told investors he views the
troubled bank as "well positioned to return to sustained
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 44.51 points, or
0.42 percent, to 10,611.84. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX
rose 4.63 points, or 0.40 percent, to close at 1,150.24. The Nasdaq
Composite Index .IXIC added 9.51 points, or 0.40 percent, to
Wall Street traded flat for most of the session as Chinese
inflation spiked to a 16-month high and offered fresh arguments for
monetary tightening in the world's third-largest economy.
Diversified manufacturer 3M CO (MMM.N) dipped 0.4 percent to
The Nasdaq Composite rose for a sixth straight day, matching a
streak that ended on Feb. 18, with online retailer Amazon.com
(AMZN.O) up 2.4 percent at $133.58, and leading gains in the
Other retailers also posted big gains a day ahead of the monthly
retail sales data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The S&P
retail index .RLX added 0.8 percent.
The U.S. trade deficit narrowed unexpectedly as oil imports fell
to their lowest level since February 1999, but exports slipped after
rising in the eight previous months. [ID:nN11203719]
The S&P midcap index .MID rose for a twelfth consecutive day
for the first time since 1996, according to data from Birinyi
About 8.1 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange,
the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, below last year's estimated
daily average of 9.65 billion.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
ratio of about 3 to 2, while on the Nasdaq, about 15 stocks rose for
every 11 that fell.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Jan Paschal)