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Overnight Markets: Wall Street gains ahead of key earnings reports

Overnight Markets: Wall Street gains ahead of key earnings reports

Wall Street inched higher on Monday in subdued trading as investors remained cautious after a strong rally last week and before a slew of key earnings releases this week.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 41 points or 0.25%, to end at 16,449. The S&P 500 gained seven points or 0.38%, to close at 1,872 – marking the fifth straight climb, its longest winning streak since October. The Nasdaq Composite added 26 points or 0.64%, to finish at 4,122.

Economic data showed an index of economic strength in the US rose in March by the most in four months. The Conference Board’s gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months climbed 0.8% after rising 0.5% in February.

In company news, Halliburton Co (HAL.N) added 3.3% after the oilfield services company reported earnings that beat expectations and gave a strong profit outlook.

SunTrust Banks (STI.N) gained 1.5% after its results. Toy maker Hasbro Inc (HAS.O) rose 1.9% after its earnings beat expectations, though revenue was under forecasts.

After the closing bell, Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) reported higher profit for the quarter that ended in March, boosted by the addition of 2.25 million customers to its movie and TV streaming service in the US. The stock shot up 6.8% in extended-hours trading.

Dozens of S&P 500 components will report earnings this week, including such closely watched companies as Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Biogen Idec (BIIB.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O). A number of Dow components, including McDonald's Corp (MCD.N), AT&T Inc (T.N), Procter & Gamble (PG.N) and Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N), will also report results.

In deal news, it was reported that Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) had approached AstraZeneca (AZN.L) to propose a $101 billion takeover, an offer that was rejected. Shares of Dow component Pfizer rose 2%, while US-listed shares of AstraZeneca (AZN.N) jumped 8.8%.

Talks between Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO)(ABX.N) and Newmont Mining Corp (NEM.N) about a potential merger have hit a snag, but the companies remain keen to reach a deal. Newmont's stock rose 6.4% and Barrick Gold's US-listed shares fell 3.9%.

In Asia, shares rose on Tuesday in late morning trade taking cue from US equities as they capped their longest stretch of gains since October and the yen extended losses.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.2% to 139 as of 10:52 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index rose 0.3% after the yen yesterday touched the weakest level against the dollar since 8 April. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.4%. China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.1%. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.1% and South Korea’s Kospi index was little changed.

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