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Stocks Rise After Jump in Leading Indicators

Stocks pushed higher Monday after a sharper-than-expected rise in leading indicators and an earnings beat from Citigroup.

This came after stocks posted their biggest loss since February on Friday as the SEC shocked Wall Street with securities-fraud charges against Goldman Sachs.

Stocks started today weak amid worries about more fallout from the Goldman charges but soon rebounded.

Leading indicators jumped 1.4 percentto a record high in March, after an upwardly revised 0.4-percent increase in February; economists polled by Reuters had expected a more modest 1-percent increase.

Citigroup shares jumped after the bank blew past earnings and revenue expectations.

Goldman Sachs shares fell more than 1 percent, after losing 13 percent on Friday, as the market continued to digest the implications of the SEC's fraud charges against the company.

The parameters of the Goldman probe are yet unknown — regulators in the U.K. and Germany are reportedly considering charges against the brokerage.

Meanwhile, a former employee of John Paulson, the hedge-fund manager who bet against the Goldman bundle of subprime mortgages, told the SEC that this deal was the only one like that.

And Rochdale Securities analyst Dick Bove said in a morning research note that the SEC's case against Goldman was weakbut it could still jeopardize the stability of the financial industry.

Whatever the result is of this case, many market pros expect it to strengthen the chances of financial reform passing.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd will hold a news conference at 10:30 am, giving an update on the progress of the financial reform bill.

The banking sector started the day off lower but then most of it rebounded — Bank of America started off as one of the Dow's biggest decliners, then climbed into the top five.

Commodities were taking a hit, with US light, sweet crude oil falling as much as $2.50 a barrel to below $81.

Earnings outside were financials were helping the market's mood a bit.

Eli Lilly beat expectations with earnings of $1.13 a share even though the pharmaceutical giant warned that the new health care law would cut into revenue.

Halliburton reported a 46 percent drop in earnings due to charges in Venezuela and weak demand across Latin America.

After the bell, earnings are due out from IBM .

Tech stocks were mixed: Apple and Qualcomm were among the gainers, while Research In Motion and Palm were among the decliners.

Toyota agreed to pay a record $16.4 million fine stemming from its massive accelerator pedal recall. The settlement is expected to be signed Monday in Washington.

Airline stocks were mixed as investors aimed to digest the fallout of travel delays due to the cloud of volcanic ash snarling flights world-wide and as talks between United parent UAL and Continental continued. Reports suggest the talks could result in a merger or a marketing alliance. United is also in the midst of talking about a possible merger with U.S. Airways.

This Week:

MONDAY: Leading indicators; Earnings from IBM after the bell
TUESDAY: Citigroup shareholders meeting; Earnings from Coke, Goldman Sachs, J&J, Regions Financial, Apple & Yahoo
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps; weekly crude inventories; Earnings from AT&T, Boeing, McDonald's, Morgan Stanley, United Technologies, Wells Fargo, Altria, eBay, Starbucks, Qualcomm & Sandisks
THURSDAY: PPI; weekly jobless claims; existing-home sales; Earnings from Pepsi, Verizon, Fifth Third, PNC Bank, American Express, Microsoft & Capital One
FRIDAY: Durable-goods orders; new-home sales; Earnings from Travelers, Honewell, Schlumberger & Xerox

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