US STOCKS-Wall St rises modestly as investors eye earnings

Reuters - UK Focus

* S&P 500 coming off biggest weekly gain since July

* Earnings seen driving trading, dozens of names report thisweek

* Results from Netflix (NasdaqGS: NFLX - news) expected after the market close

* Indexes up: Dow 0.24 pct, S&P 500 0.31 pct, Nasdaq 0.52pct (Updates to mid-afternoon, changes byline)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Frankfurt: HX6.F - news) , April 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced modestlyon Monday as investors showed hesitation in the wake of a strongrally 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 (Berlin: DWD.BE - news) . If the index ends higher, it will bethe fifth straight daily rise for the benchmark, its longestwinning streak since October.

Of the 87 companies in the S&P 500 that have reportedresults through Monday, about 62.1 percent have topped earningsexpectations, according to Thomson Reuters (Frankfurt: TOC.F - news) data, compared withthe 66 percent average over the past four quarters. On therevenue side, 51.7 percent have beaten forecasts, below the 54percent average over the past four quarters.

S&P 500 companies' first-quarter earnings are projected tohave increased 0.8 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters datashowed. 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 whichcan be volatile and therefore a lot of money is just waiting onthe sidelines to see what happens," said Tim Ghriskey, chiefinvestment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.

"Certainly, companies that confirm the rest of the yearguidance, even if they miss the first quarter, it's a good thingbecause there is still a lot of expectation that we are going tosee the economy begin to accelerate and also do some catch-upfrom the weather-impacted first quarter."

Halliburton Co rose 2.9 percent to $62.69 after theoilfield services company reported earnings that beatexpectations and gave a strong profit outlook. The Philadelphiaoil service index rose 1 percent.

SunTrust Banks (NYSE: STI - news) gained 1.2 percent to $38.39 afterits results, while Hasbro Inc (NasdaqGS: HAS - news) rose 0.7 percent to $55.00after its earnings beat expectations, though revenue was underforecasts.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 40.08 points or0.24 percent, to 16,448.62, the S&P 500 gained 5.75points 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 wasrecently a trading favorite, soaring 300 percent last year asthe S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer. The stock, stung byconcerns it may be overvalued, has slumped recently alongside abroader decline in other high-flying names. Analysts will lookto see whether the results justify its still-elevated price.

Dozens of S&P components will report this week, includingsuch closely watched names as Apple Inc (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) , Biogen Idec (NasdaqGS: BIIB - news) and Facebook Inc (NasdaqGS: FB - news) . A number of Dow components,including McDonald's Corp, AT&T Inc (NYSE: T - news) , Procter &Gamble and Caterpillar Inc (NYSE: CAT - news) , also report.

More than 30 companies in the Nasdaq 100 are slatedto report, according to Nasdaq, a group that together representsmore than half of the index's weight.

In company news, Britain's Sunday Times reported that Pfizer (TLO: PF-U.TI - news)Inc had approached AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN - news) to propose a $101billion takeover, an offer that was rejected. However, Astra'scancer drug pipeline is still considered a draw for Pfizer (NYSE: PFE - news) .Shares of Dow component Pfizer rose 2 percent to $30.85 whileU.S. shares of Astra jumped 7.4 percent to $68.21.

Talks between Barrick Gold Corp and Newmont Mining (EUREX: NEMF.EX - news) Corp about a potential merger have hit a snag, but thecompanies remain keen to reach a deal and discussions are likelyto resume, sources told Reuters.

Shares of Newmont rose 5.8 percent to $24.90 as the S&P'sbiggest percentage gainer, while U.S. shares of Barrick fell 3.3percent to $17.39.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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