US stocks rise as earnings season approaches

The Dow and S&P 500 rose steadily on Monday, as investors prepare for the US earnings season, pushing both the Dow and the S&P 500 within a few percent of their all time highs.

Today has been light in terms of economic data, which is in some ways apt, as the focus of attention is likely to switch over the next few weeks away from the performance of the economy as a whole and instead look at how individual companies have performed in their second financial quarters of the year.

Aluminium-producer Alcoa is the first company in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to report, scheduled to deliver its results after the market closes on Wall Street. Earnings of 7c per share are expected on revenues of around $5.8 billion, which would be an increase in earnings from this time last year, but a drop in revenues. Forecasts for the company’s earnings have been dropping in the last few months, with the weakness in aluminium prices an unavoidable negative.

Heading into this earnings season, things seem very similar to the last couple of quarters, with the bar of expectation set low and top line revenues more likely to be an area of concern than the bottom line earnings.

With half an hour remaining to the close in New York, the Dow Jones was trading up 0.5% or 75 points at 15,210. The NASDAQ 100 was down less than 0.1%, with Intel pulling the index down. The chipmaker lost more than 4% after being downgraded by a number of brokers.

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