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Having fallen in five of the past six sessions, and with that one break being a meager 0.28-point rise, the broad-based S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) shook off last week's woes to head higher by a sizable 11.54 points (0.81%) to 1440.13!
Leading the charge higher was moderate U.S. retail sales growth of 1.1% in September according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Many analysts have tempered their expectations for U.S. sales growth, since a good chunk of this boost was more than likely the result of booming sales of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone 5. However, it does represent tangible evidence that rising consumer confidence could be translating into actual consumer spending.
Citigroup (NYSE: C ) is the other major component leading today's rally, up 5.5%. Unlike JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, which were blasted following their third-quarter reports, Citigroup is soaring after surpassing Wall Street's estimates on lower loan loss reserves, lower expenses, and a rebound in its global consumer banking division, in spite of a 33% drop in revenue over last year. Growth may be coming at a premium for money center banks at the moment, but investors are showing that quality over quantity will be rewarded.
Let's take a quick glance at a two other companies within the S&P 500 that were an integral part in moving the index today.
Mobile tower companies such as American Tower (NYSE: AMT ) were sending out positive vibes today following the announcement that Softbank will be taking a majority position in Sprint Nextel. Sprint has trailed its rivals Verizon and AT&T with regard to rolling out an advanced 4G LTE network, so this new cash infusion from Softbank is seen as a positive in that spending on 4G LTE, and data usage, are likely to ramp up in a big way. American Tower ended the day 4% higher on the news.
However, fun and games weren't to be had by all, as toymaker Hasbro (Nasdaq: HAS ) dove 4% following a note from Goldman Sachs, which suggested selling the company as toy spending declines. The covering analyst, Michael Kelter, suggested that shares could fall up to 19% and backs up his assertion with historical trends of falling per-capita spending on toys since 1998. Today's retail sales data may prove Kelter otherwise, as might Hasbro's premium 3.7% dividend yield, but there's no denying that Hasbro has indeed missed Wall Street's earnings estimates twice in the past four quarters.
The weight of the world on Apple's shoulders?
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