Stocks Opened Higher On Retail Sales

U.S. stocks opened higher on Monday as data showed an increase in retail sales in September. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 13.24 points, to 13,342.09. The S&P 500 index gained 1.16 points to 1,429.75 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 3.53 points to 3,047.64.

U.S. retail sales rose in September as Americans bought more cars and gasoline, while a gauge of consumer spending pointed to stronger-than-expected economic growth in the third quarter. Retail sales increased 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department said on Monday, beating expectations after an upwardly revised 1.2 percent rise in August.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended his central bank’s extraordinary efforts to revive the U.S. economy from international criticism, saying the Fed isn’t responsible for artificially boosting rival currencies — and that other nations should let market forces determine exchange rates anyway.

Citigroup Inc. reported better-than-expected third-quarter results and its shares rose more than 2% before the bell Monday. Citigroup’s third-quarter net profit fell 88% to $468 million as the bank took charges tied to the value of its debt and the sale of a stake in its brokerage joint-venture. The charges took a toll on revenue, which shrank 33% from a year earlier, to $14 billion. Excluding the charges and a tax benefit, Citigroup would have posted $1.06 a share in earnings and $19.4 billion revenue, up 3% from a year earlier.

The Charles Schwab Corp. has agreed to acquire dividend income specialist ThomasPartners Inc. for an upfront payment of $85 million, plus additional payments if the smaller company can attract more investors.

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