* Italy forms government after months of uncertainty
* Risk trade is on; gold rises as dollar falls
* Penney lines up $1.75 billion loan from Goldman
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, April 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Monday
as Italy finally formed a government, relieving a two-month
political stalemate and boosting investors' appetite for risky
assets, while better-than-expected housing data boosted market
Starting off a week of heavy economic news, investors were
keeping a close eye on Friday's all-important non farm payrolls
numbers, as well as what the central banks in the U.S. and
Europe will have to say about the state of the global economy
later in the week.
The biggest gainers on Monday included J.C. Penney Co Inc
after the department store chain said Goldman Sachs
Group Inc will provide it with a five-year, $1.75 billion
financing package to help it shore up its finances. The stock
was up 2.5 percent at $17.42.
Wall Street was boosted by European shares, which edged up
on Monday after Italy finally formed a government, although
analysts saw the gains petering out in the near term.
The dollar traded slightly lower on an index basis as
currency traders look to the European Central Bank meeting on
Thursday to see what measures may be implemented to spur growth.
"Wall Street appears primed for another assault at record
highs," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at
Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
In macroeconomic news, data showed U.S. Commerce Department
personal income rose 0.2 percent, slightly higher than expected,
while contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes rose in
March as the housing market continued to pick up pace this year.
This week's "highlights are likely to be Wednesday's meeting
of the Federal Open Market Committee and Friday's non farm
payroll report," said Wilkinson, adding that the employment
report might show a post-sequester snapback in hiring.
Weak U.S. growth data has supported expectations the Federal
Reserve will keep its pace of bond buying at $85 billion a month
during the FOMC meeting announcement on Wednesday, while the
European Central Bank (ECB) is widely expected to announce an
interest rate cut when it meets on Thursday.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 52.72 points,
or 0.36 percent, at 14,765.27. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 7.48 points, or 0.47 percent, at 1,589.72. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 23.21 points, or 0.71
percent, at 3,302.47.
On Monday, hotel, energy and financial services conglomerate
Loews Corp reported a 34 percent drop in first-quarter
profit due to higher impairment charges and a sharp fall in
investment income. The stock was off 0.7 percent at
Shares of online retailer Amazon.com Inc were off
0.6 percent at $253.36 in early trading Monday. The stock was
Friday's biggest drag on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes in the
wake of the company's results on Thursday.
Of the 274 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported
earnings to date for the first quarter of 2013, 69 percent have
reported earnings above analysts' expectations, and 43.2 percent
have reported revenue above expectations.
U.S. stocks dipped in thin volume on Friday, though the
market had a strong week overall.