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U.S. stocks recover some ground on retail sales gain

U.S. stocks mounted a modest rally Monday, helping investors recover some of the ground lost after a rough finish last week.

U.S. stocks mounted a modest rally Monday, helping investors recover some of the ground lost after a rough finish last week.

Stocks rose after the Commerce Department reported that retail sales increased 1.1 percent in March, the best gain since September 2012. The government also revised February's figure to a 0.7 percent gain, more than double its previous estimate.

Sales improved particularly in the second half of March, as unusually cold weather that gripped much of the country this winter began to ease, motivating more people to go out and spend money.

Citigroup helped stoke the rally. The bank reported a 2.5 percent jump in first-quarter profit as both income and revenue beat Wall Street's expectations. That was a welcome surprise following an earnings miss last week by JPMorgan Chase. Citigroup surged $1.99, or 4.4 percent, to $47.67.

A positive earnings outlook from health information portal WebMD also helped. WebMD jumped $6.20, or 16.5 percent, to $43.87.

It was the market's first finish in the green since April 9.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 14.92 points, or 0.82 percent, to close at 1,830.61. All 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 increased, led by energy stocks, which rose 1.3 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 146.49 points, or 0.91 percent, to 16,173.24. The Nasdaq composite rose 22.96 points, or 0.57 percent, to 4,022.69.

While they recovered some of their losses from last week, all three indexes remain down for the month and the year.

Monday's rally was a positive start for the market in a week that promises to provide investors with plenty of insight into the health of corporate America and the U.S. consumer.

Investors will hear from several members of the Federal Reserve, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

Among the major companies due to report earnings this week are Johnson & Johnson, Google, General Electric, and UnitedHealth.

Analysts still expect first-quarter earnings for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 to decline 1.6 percent from a year earlier, according to FactSet, a financial data provider. If profits do fall, it would be only the second quarterly drop in three years.

Among the stocks making news Monday, medical device maker Edwards Lifesciences rose the most of any stock in the S&P 500 index. A federal judge on Friday reaffirmed an earlier ruling that Medtronic's CoreValve system infringes on Edwards' patent for a replacement heart valve. Edwards soared $8.03, or 11 percent, to $81. Medtronic fell $1.12, or 1.9 percent, to $58.08.