Stocks eke out modest gains as focus turns to US earnings

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks edged mostly higher in early trading as first-quarter company earnings got off to a mixed start.

Energy companies and banks were among the early winners Tuesday. Marathon Oil jumped 3 percent.

The price of oil continued to move higher. U.S. crude rose 1 percent to almost $41 a barrel in New York.

Earnings didn’t get off to a promising start for U.S. companies. Aluminum maker Alcoa sank 5 percent after reporting weaker than expected revenue.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 45 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,601 as of 9:35 a.m. Eastern time.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose three points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,044. The Nasdaq composite lost five points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,828.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

European stock markets were steady Tuesday as traders awaited the next set of U.S. corporate earnings statement. The quarterly reporting season kicked off on Monday with fairly downbeat numbers from aluminum company Alcoa.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was flat at 6,200 while Germany’s DAX rose 0.2 percent to 9,706. The CAC-40 in France was 0.1 percent higher at 4,315. U.S. stocks were poised for modest gains at the open with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.3 percent.

EARNINGS: Earnings season got under way Monday on a fairly lackluster note as Alcoa reported a big fall in revenue. It reported a huge drop in first-quarter profit as low aluminum prices helped send revenue tumbling 15 percent. Later this week big U.S. banks will start releasing results, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, though expectations are low for this earnings season.

OIL IN FOCUS TOO: Oil prices will also be a key point of interest in financial markets ahead of further U.S. inventory data and this Sunday’s meeting of oil producers in Doha, Qatar. Oil prices have recovered lately partly on expectations that some sort of production cut may emerge. Benchmark U.S. crude oil was up 36 cents at $40.73 a barrel while the international standard, Brent, rose 48 cents to $43.31.

ANALYST TAKE: “U.S stock markets are poised to open slightly higher on Tuesday as traders eye API inventory data and a few Fed speeches throughout the session,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. “There’ll also be an eye on the earnings season this week, which got under way on Monday with Alcoa releasing some disappointing numbers.”

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.1 percent to 15,928.79 and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.6 percent to 1,981.32, a day before South Koreans elect 300 new lawmakers to parliament. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.3 percent to 20,504.44 and Australia’s S&X/ASX 200 added 0.9 percent to 4,975.60. But China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.3 percent to 3,023.65. Stocks advanced in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines but fell in Taiwan.

CURRENCIES: The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.1395 while the dollar rose 0.4 percent to 108.34 yen.

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