* U.S. March retail sales post biggest gain in 1-1/2 years
* Brent crude prices jump; energy stocks follow
* Dow up 0.9 pct; S&P 500 up 0.9 pct; Nasdaq up 1 pct
(Updates to midday)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, April 14 U.S. stocks rebounded on
Monday, following a sharp selloff in the previous session, with
Citigroup's earnings and retail sales lifting sentiment while
traders kept tabs on the possible escalation of hostilities in
Citigroup shares led the financial sector higher after
the bank said its quarterly net profit rose because of a smaller
loss on its troubled assets. The stock rose 4.6 percent to
$47.78. The S&P financial index gained
"This is a reflex rally. We're bouncing back, probably on
Citi. It's the first kind of OK news on banks we get in a couple
of weeks," said Jack de Gan, chief investment officer of Harbor
Advisory Corp in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Futures had gained earlier after data showed U.S. retail
sales recorded their largest increase in 1-1/2 years in March,
in the latest sign that the economy was emerging from its
"People are trying to figure out how much of the (recent
data) weakness was weather related," de Gan said. "When you see
pent-up spending like this, it validates the idea it was because
of the weather."
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 147.35 points
or 0.92 percent, to 16,174.10. The S&P 500 gained 16.4
points or 0.9 percent, to 1,832.09. The Nasdaq Composite
added 38.216 points or 0.96 percent, to 4,037.95.
Pro-Russian separatists ignored an ultimatum to leave
occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine as a threatened
military offensive by government forces failed to materialize.
Rebels in the town of Slaviansk issued a bold call for Russian
President Vladimir Putin to help them.
Tension between Moscow and the United States increased over
the weekend as a Russian fighter aircraft made repeated
low-altitude close-range passes near a U.S. ship in the Black
Russian stocks fell 1.3 percent and the rouble
hit its weakest in three weeks against the U.S. dollar as
Ukraine's preparedness to fight heightened fears of Russian
military intervention and more Western sanctions against Moscow.
Brent crude prices climbed on concerns about supply
disruptions or sanctions against Russia. The S&P energy index
rose 1.4 percent and was the best-performing sector.
Harbor Advisory's de Gan said the market should be more
concerned about military intervention from Russia.
"That would give the market reason for a further
correction," he said.
On Friday, JPMorgan's disappointing earnings were partly to
blame for the day's selloff. Biotech and other momentum stocks
led the Nasdaq Composite lower, pushing the index below 4,000
for the first time in two months. The Nasdaq biotech index
on Friday closed 21 percent below its record closing high
hit Feb. 25, entering bear market territory.
Biotechs, however, outperformed the market on Monday. The
sector index shot up 1.3 percent.
Medtronic shares fell 1.5 percent to $58.29, paring
a sharper loss in premarket trading, after a U.S. court ruling
temporarily stopped sales of the company's aortic heart valve
replacement system, called CoreValve, in the United States
because of a patent infringement. Shares of Medtronic's rival,
Edwards Lifesciences, which was on the other side of the
ruling, rallied 12.9 percent to $82.35.
Shares of Aspen Insurance Holdings jumped 10.6
percent to $43.54 after Endurance Specialty offered to
buy Aspen for $3.2 billion in cash and stock. Endurance shares
fell 1.4 percent to $53.09.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama,
Meredith Mazzilli and Jan Paschal)