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Stocks close mixed as earnings season ramps up

CNBC logo CNBC 7/16/2018 Fred Imbert and Alexandra Gibbs
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Bank of America shares rose sharply Monday, leading financial stocks higher, while the broader market struggled for gains as the corporate earnings season kicked into full swing.

The banking giant's stock rose 4.3 percent in its best day since March 26, when it gained 4.35 percent. Bank of America gained after the company reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue. Financials rose 1.7 percent. The SPDR S&P Bank ETF rose 1.2 percent.

The Dow ended 44 points higher, with J.P. Morgan Chase outperforming. The S&P 500 slipped 0.1 percent as a decline in energy stocks offset gains in financials. The Nasdaq finished 0.26 percent lower as Amazon gave back most of its gains amid glitches at the start of Prime Day. 

BlackRock reported second-quarter earnings and revenue before the bell, along with J.B. Hunt Transport Services. BlackRock's earnings were driven in part by a lower corporate tax rate, while J.B. Hunt's results were helped by higher rates and increased volume.

However, BlackRock shares slipped 0.6 percent. J.B. Hunt fell nearly 0.3 percent after rising as much as 6.7 percent. 

Wall Street has high hopes for this earnings season, with analysts expecting second-quarter profits to have grown by 20 percent from last year, according to FactSet. Earnings for the first quarter grew by 24 percent. 

“A lot of people are expecting a beat on earnings growth for the quarter,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth. “But I think there are some questions about growth moving forward.” 

So far, just 5.7 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported second-quarter results. Overall, 86 percent of those companies have posted better-than-expected earnings, with profits growing by 20.1 percent, FactSet data shows.

Stocks posted strong gains last week despite increasing trade tensions, with the major indexes rising . Last week, the Trump administration unveiled a list Chinese goods it will potentially target with a 10 percent tariff. The list added up to $200 billion worth of items. The announcement came just days after both nations imposed $34 billion worth of tariffs on each other. 

"Last week, we had some strength in the face of trade concerns and it seems like we're taking a break after that," said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial. "A lot of this is priced in, but we need some sort of positive resolution" for the market to move back to all-time highs. 

Retail sales rose 0.5 percent in June, in line with expectations, the Commerce Department said Monday. 

Energy stocks dropped nearly 1.5 percent after crude prices fell sharply. West Texas Intermediate futures dropped 4.2 percent after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said some importers could receive waivers to keep buying supplies from Iran.

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