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Dow Rises Amid Upbeat Retail Sales Data; Apple Lags

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--Stocks mixed after retail sales data top economists' views

--Europe markets mostly higher, but rising Spanish bond yields still a concern

--Citi reports improvements in all three of its lines of business for first quarter

 
   By Matt Jarzemsky 
   Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES 
 

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose amid better-than-expected retail sales data, while Apple shares' biggest drop since October pulled other major benchmarks into the red.

The Dow bounced from its biggest weekly slide of the year to rise 71.82 points, or 0.6%, to 12921.41.

Standard Poor's 500-stock index eased 0.69 points, or less than 0.1%, to 1369.57. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite retreated 22.93 points, or 0.8%, to 2988.40.

Apple shares fell $25.10, or 4.1%, to $580.13 for their biggest percentage drop since Oct. 19. Traders speculated some shareholders were selling to cash in on the stock's more-than-40% gain this year.

Citigroup rose 59 cents, or 1.8%, to 34 after reporting improvements in all three of its lines of business for the first quarter.

Also weighing on stocks, the yield on Spain's 10-year government bonds rose above 6% for the first time since before the European Central Bank launched its first liquidity operation, sparking further worry about Europe's debt crisis. The cost of protecting against a Spanish default rose to a fresh record high.

"The market's trying to decide who's going to win the tug-of-war battle between earnings and Europe," said Burt White, chief investment officer at LPL Financial in Boston. "We're seeing some concern, especially as it relates to Spain. On the flip side, I think the hurdle is low enough that earnings are probably going to clear it."

U.S. retail and food service sales in March rose 0.8% from a month earlier, sharply topping expectations. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, retail sales increased by the same percentage, the Commerce Department reported.

Other data were less encouraging. U.S. home builders' confidence in the housing market fell in April for the first time in seven months and fell short of forecasts.

New York manufacturing activity slowed sharply in April, although employment data improved, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

U.S. business inventories rose in February, led by an increasing number of cars on dealer lots, as companies kept pace with rising sales.

European markets ended mostly higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 rising 0.3% as the U.S. retail sales data and some positive corporate news helped offset worries about Spain.

The energy sector got a lift after French natural gas and electricity supplier GDF Suez sweetened its offer for International Power by 7.2%. In addition, J.P. Morgan Cazenove upgraded the European energy sector to overweight from neutral.

Asian exchanges were broadly lower on the back of U.S. losses on Friday and concerns about Spain; Japan's Nikkei Stock Average shed 1.7% and China's Shanghai Composite lost 0.1%.

Crude-oil futures added 0.1% to settle at $102.93 a barrel, while gold futures slipped 0.6% to finish at $1,648.70 an ounce. The U.S. dollar fell against the euro and the yen.

In corporate news, Mattel shares slid 3.12, or 9.1%, to 31.01 after the toy maker reported first-quarter results that fell short of estimates, as sales of Barbie and Hot Wheels brands declined.

Endocyte's shares more than doubled, gaining 3.82 to 7.62 after the company said it entered into an agreement with blue-chip pharmaceutical company Merck to develop and commercialize Endocyte's ovarian cancer treatment.

Caterpillar rose 85 cents, or 0.8%, to 106.74 after Bank of America analysts raised their stock-investment rating on the company.

SMF Energy plunged 55 cents, or 65%, to 29 cents after the energy logistics company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy production. SMF said recent turnaround plans have been unsuccessful.

Avon shares fell 49 cents, or 2.1%, to 23.03 after the company reiterated its opposition to fragrance company Coty's buyout bid, saying the offer undervalues the door-to-door beauty company. Coty said it has lined up more than $5 billion from investors and firmer debt financing in support of its $10 billion offer, an attempt to convince investors the unsolicited offer is credible.

Gannett, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher by circulation, tumbled 1.15, or 7.7%, to 13.89 after reporting first-quarter revenue that fell short of analysts' estimates.

Stratasys rose 5.23, or 15%, to 41.21 after agreeing to an all-stock merger with privately held 3-D printer maker Objet. The deal values the combined company at $1.4 billion. Statasys said the deal will position it as a leader in 3-D printing and direct digital manufacturing.

Vornado Realty Trust gained 2.21, or 2.8%, to 82.15 after the office and retail landlord said it will consider moves such as selling noncore assets and splitting up the company to boost its value. "Everything is on the table," the real-estate investment trust said in a letter to shareholders.

 

-By Matt Jarzemsky, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2240; matthew.jarzemsky@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 16, 2012 17:11 ET (21:11 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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