US STOCKS-Wall St gains on positive earnings, upbeat data


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    * Retail sales post biggest gain in 1-1/2 yrs in March
    * Industrials boost S&P 500, Dow Jones
    * Pinterest surges in debut
    * Indexes up: Dow 0.52%, S&P 500 0.20%, Nasdaq 0.01%

 (Updates to late afternoon; changes dateline, byline)
    By Stephen Culp
    NEW YORK, April 18 (Reuters) - Industrials led Wall Street
higher on Thursday in the wake of upbeat economic data and a
string of healthy corporate earnings.
    All three major U.S. stock indexes nosed into positive
territory in light trading heading into the three-day weekend. 
    For the holiday-shortened week, the S&P was on track to snap
its three-week winning streak, while the Dow and the Nasdaq were
poised to end the week higher. 
    U.S. retail sales  USRSL=ECI  in March blew past analyst
expectations, rising at their fastest monthly pace in 1-1/2
years, according to the Commerce Department. 
    In a separate report, jobless claims data from the Labor
Department  USJOB=ECI  showed the number of Americans filing for
unemployment benefits dropped last week to a 50-year low.*:nL1N21Z0OU 
    Industrial stocks provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500
and the Dow following positive quarterly results and remarks
from China's commerce ministry spokesman that progress has been
made in U.S.-China trade negotiations.*:nB9N21900T    
    With reporting season in high gear, January-March S&P 500
profits are expected to have dropped 1.7% year-on-year, which
would mark the first decline in quarterly earnings since 2016.
    Of the 77 S&P 500 companies that have posted thus far, 77.9%
have beaten consensus, compared with the 65% average beat rate
going back to 1994.
    First quarter earnings are beating estimates, "but not by
enough to be a catalyst for significantly higher stock prices,"
said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management
in Chicago. "You'd have to hit the ball out of the park to push
stocks significantly higher."  
    Growing demand for aircraft parts drove Honeywell
International Inc's  HON.N  profit beat. The company raised its
full-year forecast, and its stock rose 4.0%.*:nL3N2202W1
    Fewer catastrophe losses helped Travelers Companies Inc
 TRV.N  report higher-than-expected profit.*:nL3N2202ZW The
property & casualty insurer's stock gained 3.0%.
    Union Pacific Corp  UNP.N  shares advanced 4.9% after
beating earnings estimates as the railroad offset the impact
severe weather and midwest floods through price hikes.*:nL3N2203AW
    Among earnings misses, Schlumberger NV  SLB.N  reported a
20% drop in first quarter profit, but said it expects a 7% to 8%
rise in investments by oil producers, which would be a tailwind
for the oil services company. Its shares slipped 3.9%.*:nL3N22030O
    American Express Co's  AXP.N  quarterly revenue fell short
of analyst estimates,*:nL3N22036V but the stock reversed early
losses, and was last up 1.9%.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  rose 137.32 points,
or 0.52%, to 26,586.86, the S&P 500  .SPX  gained 5.79 points,
or 0.20%, to 2,906.24 and the Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  added
0.63 points, or 0.01%, to 7,996.71.
    Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, eight were in the
black, with industrials  .SPLRCI  leading the way with a 1.19%
    Online scrapbook company Pinterest Inc  PINS.N  jumped 30.1%
 in its debut.*:nL3N2203ZP
    Meanwhile, Lyft Inc  LYFT.O  dropped 2.4%. The ride-hailing
service's stock is now trading 19% below its $72 offer price.
    Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a
1.00-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.12-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
    The S&P 500 posted 33 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 41 new highs and 71 new lows.  

 (Reporting by Stephen Culp
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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