* Citigroup is one of S&P's biggest gainers after results
* Biotech shares reverse early gains, weigh on Nasdaq
* 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 0.8 pct; Nasdaq up 0.6 pct
(Updates to close)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, April 14 U.S. stocks closed higher on
Monday as Citigroup's earnings and strong retail sales gave
investors reasons to buy equities despite a resurgence of
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, though they 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 materialize. 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 percent to $47.67 while the S&P
financial index climbed 0.8 percent and the KBW Banks
index gained 0.7 percent.
Among other financials, Bank of America Corp shares
rose 1.5 percent to $16, while Morgan Stanley shot up 2.1
percent to $29.06.
"We're in a tug of war between the fundamentals of earnings
- and so far, some have looked good - and then a broad cloud of
geopolitical uncertainty underlying everything, which hasn't
been getting the attention it deserves in markets," said
Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at the ConvergEx Group
in New York.
Biotech shares remained volatile, ending flat after a
session when the Nasdaq biotech index rose as much as 2.7
percent and fell as much as 1.9 percent. The biotech sector
entered bear market territory - defined as a 20 percent drop
from its peak - on Friday as investors took profits in the
high-flying group and pushed the Nasdaq below 4,000 for the
first time in two months.
Intuitive Surgical was the S&P 500's biggest
decliner, falling 3.3 percent to close at $425.
The Dow Jones industrial average shot up 146.49
points, or 0.91 percent, to end at 16,173.24. The Standard &
Poor's 500 Index gained 14.92 points, or 0.82 percent, to
finish at 1,830.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced
22.96 points, or 0.57 percent, to close at 4,022.69.
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
An index of 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
Brent crude prices climbed 1.4 percent on concerns
about supply disruptions or sanctions against Russia. The S&P
energy index rose 1.3 percent and was one of the
best-performing sectors for the day.
"It's troubling to see concerns expressed through price
action in oil, since high oil prices will serve as a tax on
consumers," Colas said.
U.S. retail sales recorded their largest increase in 1-1/2
years in March, a bigger gain than had been anticipated and the
latest sign that the economy was emerging from its
Medtronic shares fell 1.9 percent to end at $58.08
after a U.S. court ruling temporarily stopped sales of the
company's aortic heart valve replacement system in the United
States because of a patent infringement. Shares of Edwards
Lifesciences, which was on the other side of the ruling,
surged 11 percent to end at $81. The stock was the S&P 500's
Shares of Aspen Insurance Holdings jumped 11.2
percent to $43.77 after Endurance Specialty offered to
buy Aspen for $3.2 billion in cash and stock. Endurance shares
slid 2.8 percent to $52.32.
About 63 percent of stocks traded on the New York Stock
Exchange ended higher, while 51 percent of Nasdaq-listed shares
ended in positive territory.
About 5.96 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms,
according to BATS exchange data, below the 6.96 billion traded
on average so far this month.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)