U.S. stocks rose Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 229 points as markets reacted to China’s move to stimulate its economy and positive earnings from Morgan Stanley helped lift equities.
In midday trading, the blue-chip Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gained 249.64 points, or 1.40 percent, to 18,075.94. The broad-based Standard & Poor's 500 (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) increased 21.91 points, or 1.05 percent, to 2,103.11. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 54.79 points, or 1.11 percent, to 4,986.56.
Investors are becoming more concerned about first-quarter earnings as many companies report revenue shortfalls, especially at such big names such as General Electric and American Express.
But Wall Street investment bank Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) reported Monday before markets opened its best quarterly profit since the second quarter of 2007, helped by higher revenue from bond and equities trading. Big banks have had a mostly strong quarter, with Morgan Stanly reporting a 60 percent rise in net profit in the quarter ending March 31, to $2.39 billion. Morgan Stanley shares were up 1.14 percent to $37.17 in Monday trading.
Shares in toymaker Hasbro Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) jumped 9.14 percent to $71.91 after the company reported a surprise rise in revenue on stronger-than-expected global demand for its franchise entertainment brands, which include Sesame Street, Disney and Marvel.
Oilfield equipment maker and global logistics firm Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) reported a loss in the first quarter as plummeting oil prices curbed the growth in drilling operations. But the company’s revenue and profits before one-time charges exceeded analysts’ expectations, which elevated the company’s stock price by 3.82 percent to $48.68 Monday.
On Sunday China’s central bank announced a surprise cut to its banks’ reserve requirement ratio by 100 basis points to 18.5 percent effective Monday. The move frees up more money for lending in a bid to stimulate the world’s fastest-growing major economy. It was the biggest interest rate reduction since the global economic downturn of 2008. Although Asian markets closed down, China’s move to increase the money banks can lend helped lift markets in Europe and the U.S.
"What's helped the market today is the story about more stimulus in China," Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey, told Reuters.
In Europe, the possibility that Greece may default on its $327 billion debt pulled the euro down 0.65 percent against the dollar, to $1.0736, after International Monetary Fund and G20 meetings over the weekend failed to reassure markets -- despite officials' upbeat statements.
"We are making progress, but we are far from the destination," said Poul Thomsen, the IMF’s Europe director, told German business daily Handelsblatt in a report published Monday. Oil prices were lifted Monday after Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali Al-Naimi, said his oil-rich country would maintain its current record level of crude output in April and said he’s seen no reduction of demand from China.
In March the country delivered a record 10.3 million barrels per day, beating a previous all-time high of 10.2 million barrels per day in August 2013. Brent crude price rose 0.79 percent to $63.95 in London on Monday. U.S. crude rose 1.74 percent to $56.71.