* Dow, S&P 500 end at record highs for third day
* Citigroup shares climb after earnings
* Empire State manufacturing index up, but retail sales soft
* Trading volume lowest of any full trading day this year
* Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P 500 up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, July 15 (Reuters) - Citigroup's strong earnings
helped the S&P 500 end higher on Monday for an eighth straight
day, the longest such streak since mid-January, though weak
retail sales limited gains in a session with the lowest volume
of the year.
The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 finished at
record closing highs for the third consecutive session. The
Nasdaq scored its highest close since September 2000.
Volume was the lightest of any full trading day this year,
with just 4.91 billion shares trading on exchanges, based on the
latest available data. This year, daily volume has averaged 6.4
billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and
the NYSE MKT.
Shares of Citigroup climbed 2 percent to $51.81 after
the third-largest U.S. bank by assets reported a 26 percent
increase in adjusted quarterly profit. The S&P 500 financial
industry sector index gained 0.4 percent.
The day's economic data was mixed, however, with growth in
New York state manufacturing for July accelerating, while June
retail sales fell short of expectations. May business
inventories barely increased.
Investors are watching for changes in earnings or economic
news that could derail the market's rally. Stocks have climbed
this year, except for a late-May selloff triggered by Federal
Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments, which raised the
prospect of trimming the Fed's $85 billion in monthly stimulus.
The S&P 500 has gained 18 percent since Dec. 31.
"Earnings so far seem to have gotten off to a pretty decent
start," said Cam Albright, director of asset allocation for
Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors in Wilmington, Delaware.
"We think there was a lot of bringing down of expectations prior
to reaching earnings season, so that is probably giving the
earnings numbers a little bit more cushion."
Leap Wireless International Inc shares more than
doubled after AT&T Inc said late Friday it would buy the
company for $1.19 billion. At least two brokerages raised their
ratings on Leap's stock. Leap, which was among
the Nasdaq's most actively traded stocks, ended at $16.95 - up
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19.96 points, or
0.13 percent, to 15,484.26, a record closing high. The Standard
& Poor's 500 Index gained 2.31 points, or 0.14 percent,
to finish at 1,682.50, also a record. The Nasdaq Composite Index
advanced 7.41 points, or 0.21 percent, to end at
3,607.49 - its highest close since September 2000.
Much of the focus this week will be on earnings. Analysts
expect S&P 500 companies' second-quarter earnings to have grown
2.8 percent from a year earlier, with revenue up 1.5 percent
from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data showed.
While earnings growth has slowed in recent quarters, it is
expected to pick up the last half of the year. Bank of
America-Merrill Lynch raised its year-end target for the S&P 500
to 1,750 from 1,600, citing expected earnings growth.
Most companies also are exceeding analysts' earnings
expectations, as they have done in recent quarters. Of the
companies that have reported second-quarter results so far, 66.7
percent are beating earnings estimates. Revenue results,
however, are faring worse and are likely to remain a concern for
investors, analysts said.
S&P 500 industrial shares rose after airlines expressed
confidence over the weekend in the safety of Boeing's 787
Dreamliner following a fire on one of the jets last week. Boeing
gained 3.7 percent to $105.66 and ranked as the Dow's top
This week's agenda includes comments from Bernanke, who is
scheduled to testify about monetary policy before the House
Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. He will appear on
Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee.
"Given what he has been saying, I don't expect much
different," Albright said.
First Solar Inc was the S&P 500's best percentage
gainer, rising 5.5 percent to $50.27.
Shares of Tiffany & Co jumped 3.6 percent to $79.78
in active trading after Stifel Nicolaus upgraded the high-end
jeweler's stock to a "buy" from a "hold" and set a price target
On the flip side, shares of Ingredion dropped 9.9
percent to $62.57, a day after the company warned on earnings.
Utilities outperformed other sectors in the S&P 500, with
the sector index up 1.6 percent. Utility companies,
including FirstEnergy Corp and Public Service Enterprise
Group Inc, were among the sector's best performers after
power grid operators in the U.S. Northeast said they had enough
electricity to keep air conditioners running this week through
an anticipated heat wave.
Advancers outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock
Exchange by a ratio of about 19 to 11, while on the Nasdaq, 16
stocks rose for nearly every nine that fell.