* S&P 500 coming off biggest weekly gain since July
* Earnings seen driving trading, dozens of names report this
* Results from Netflix expected after the market close
* Indexes up: Dow 0.24 pct, S&P 500 0.31 pct, Nasdaq 0.52
(Updates to mid-afternoon, changes byline)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, April 21 U.S. stocks advanced modestly
on Monday as investors showed hesitation in the wake of a strong
rally last week and ahead of key earnings releases.
The S&P 500 posted its best week since July last week,
boosted by results from such names as General Electric Co
and Morgan Stanley. If the index ends higher, it will be
the fifth straight daily rise for the benchmark, its longest
winning streak since October.
Of the 87 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported
results through Monday, about 62.1 percent have topped earnings
expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, compared with
the 66 percent average over the past four quarters. On the
revenue side, 51.7 percent have beaten forecasts, below the 54
percent average over the past four quarters.
S&P 500 companies' first-quarter earnings are projected to
have increased 0.8 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data
showed. The forecast is down sharply from the start of the year,
when profit growth was estimated at 6.5 percent.
"We are certainly in a wait-and-see mode for earnings which
can be volatile and therefore a lot of money is just waiting on
the sidelines to see what happens," said Tim Ghriskey, chief
investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
"Certainly, companies that confirm the rest of the year
guidance, even if they miss the first quarter, it's a good thing
because there is still a lot of expectation that we are going to
see the economy begin to accelerate and also do some catch-up
from the weather-impacted first quarter."
Halliburton Co rose 2.9 percent to $62.69 after the
oilfield services company reported earnings that beat
expectations and gave a strong profit outlook. The Philadelphia
oil service index rose 1 percent.
SunTrust Banks gained 1.2 percent to $38.39 after
its results, while Hasbro Inc rose 0.7 percent to $55.00
after its earnings beat expectations, though revenue was under
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 40.08 points or
0.24 percent, to 16,448.62, the S&P 500 gained 5.75
points or 0.31 percent, to 1,870.6 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 21.487 points or 0.52 percent, to 4,117.003.
Investors are looking ahead to results from Netflix Inc
after the market closes. The online movie renter was
recently a trading favorite, soaring 300 percent last year as
the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer. The stock, stung by
concerns it may be overvalued, has slumped recently alongside a
broader decline in other high-flying names. Analysts will look
to see whether the results justify its still-elevated price.
Dozens of S&P components will report this week, including
such closely watched names as Apple Inc, Biogen Idec
and Facebook Inc. A number of Dow components,
including McDonald's Corp, AT&T Inc, Procter &
Gamble and Caterpillar Inc, also report.
More than 30 companies in the Nasdaq 100 are slated
to report, according to Nasdaq, a group that together represents
more than half of the index's weight.
In company news, Britain's Sunday Times reported that Pfizer
Inc had approached AstraZeneca to propose a $101
billion takeover, an offer that was rejected. However, Astra's
cancer drug pipeline is still considered a draw for Pfizer.
Shares of Dow component Pfizer rose 2 percent to $30.85 while
U.S. shares of Astra jumped 7.4 percent to $68.21.
Talks between Barrick Gold Corp and Newmont Mining
Corp about a potential merger have hit a snag, but the
companies remain keen to reach a deal and discussions are likely
to resume, sources told Reuters.
Shares of Newmont rose 5.8 percent to $24.90 as the S&P's
biggest percentage gainer, while U.S. shares of Barrick fell 3.3
percent to $17.39.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)