Wall Street edges higher as tech, financials gain

A trader at the New York Stock Exchange on March 31, 2017 in New York.  US stocks opened higher on April 17, 2017, helped by gains in technology and financial stocks.
A trader at the New York Stock Exchange on March 31, 2017 in New York. US stocks opened higher on April 17, 2017, helped by gains in technology and financial stocks.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks opened higher on Monday, rising for the first time in four days, helped by gains in technology and financial stocks.

However, the gains were kept largely in check by rising geopolitical tensions and weak US retail sales data, which was released on Friday.

President Donald Trump's national security adviser said the United States, its allies and China were working on a range of responses to North Korea's latest failed ballistic missile test.

The S&P 500 technology sector's 0.44 per cent gain provided the biggest boost to the broader index, followed by a 0.3 per cent rise in financials.

The two sectors had taken a beating last week as investors loaded up on safe-havens amid geopolitical worries.

Gold prices hit five month highs on Monday, while the dollar fell to a five-month low as the safe yen rose. "The major threat hanging over the market now is the geopolitical situation. The fact that North Korea's failed missile launch maybe a reason why we are seeing a little bit of a bounce back here," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

Trading volumes are likely to be light, with most European financial markets closed for the Easter holiday.

At 9:41 a.m. ET (9:41 p.m Singapore time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 67 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 20,520.25, the S&P 500 was up 5.07 points, or 0.22 per cent, at 2,334.02 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 17.33 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 5,822.48.

Investors are also keeping an eye on quarterly earnings to justify pricey valuations of stocks. The first quarter is expected to be strong, with earnings of S&P 500 companies estimated to have risen 10.4 percent.

Companies set to report results on Monday include Netflix and United Continental, which became a subject of international outrage for dragging a passenger from its plane.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher.