Slow Retail Sales Can't Stop the Dow

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) crept higher once again today, gaining 20 points, or 0.13%, to close at 15,484, after briefly topping 15,500. Strong earnings from Citigroup helped reassure Wall Street, going into the heart of earnings season and coming on the heels of solid reports from JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo last week. The nation's No. 3 bank by assets reported adjusted profits up 26% on strong investment banking earnings to $1.25 a share, topping the $1.18 analysts expected. Shares finished up 2%.

Elsewhere, June retail sales disappointed, growing just 0.4% on expectations of 0.7%. Excluding auto sales, growth was flat, and spending in several discretionary categories such as restaurants actually dropped from May. Retail sales are always a closely watched economic indicator, as consumer spending is one of the biggest drivers of economic growth. In the day's other noteworthy reports, the July Empire Stare Manufacturing index blew past estimates of 3.6, coming in at 9.5, indicating that manufacturing growth remains strong in the Northeast, and May business inventories topped estimates, growing 0.1%.

Back on the Dow, Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) shares bounced back impressively today, gaining 3.7% after sliding 4.7% on Friday, when a fire broke out in one of its Dreamliner 787 jets parked at Heathrow airport. Today, however, shares rebounded as airlines said they were confident in the safety of the new composite jet, and early reports said the source of the fire was different from what had plagued it before. As of the time of writing, investigators were looking into a battery made by in Honeywell in an emergency locator transmitter, a separate issue from the lithium-ion battery that had caused the fires at the beginning of this year.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) shares were also moving north today, climbing 1.4% as the software maker announced that it would throw its hat into the smart-watch ring amid increasing rumors about Apple's iWatch. The new Paparazzi smartwatch will have a 1.5-inch screen and connect remotely with other Microsoft mobile products. Analysts expect to be on shelves in 2014. After arriving late to the smartphone and tablet market, Microsoft seems to have learned from those blunders and is getting in on the first wave of smart watches. Notably, the company introduced a smart watch nine years ago, but the product flopped, as the market seemed to not be ready for it.

Finally, investors had their first chance to react to AT&T's (NYSE: T  ) decision to buy Leap Wireless for $1.19 billion, with the stock closing down 0.7% after shares fell 1.6% at opening. AT&T's purchase caused Leap stock to more than double as Ma Bell is offering a steep premium. Still, if the acquisition goes through, it will give AT&T much-needed spectrum and 7 million additional subscribers.

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