Stocks Open Flat, Citigroup Beats Estimates

U.S. stocks opened little changed on Monday as economic data painted a mixed picture, but Citigroup (NYS:C) reported a ¬†better-than-expected increase in profit. The Dow Jones industrial average lately fell 5.44 points, or 0.04 percent, at 15,458.86. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 1.39 points, or 0.08 percent, at 1,678.80. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 6.20 points, or 0.17 percent, at 3,593.88.

Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C) reported a stronger-than-expected 26 percent rise in adjusted quarterly profit as stronger home prices reduced losses on mortgages and trading revenue rebounded. Adjusted net income rose to $3.89 billion (2.58 billion pounds), or $1.25 per share, in the second quarter, from $3.08 billion, or $1.00 per share, a year earlier, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets said on Monday.

China’s economic growth rate slipped to 7.5% in the second quarter, continuing a slowdown that’s affecting industries world- wide. Growth in China, the world’s second-biggest economy after the U.S., has been slowing since 2007’s peak, but that slowdown has accelerated recently.

Retail sales rose less than expected in June. Retail sales increased 0.4 percent last month, lifted by demand for automobiles and higher gasoline prices. However, sales of building materials fell by the most in a year, a potentially worrying sign for the housing market.

Loblaw Cos Ltd, Canada’s largest food retailer, will buy Shoppers Drug Mart Corp for C$12.4 billion ($11.9 billion), as it faces increasing competition from Target Corp and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The price of oil retreated toward $105 a barrel Monday as traders weighed conflicting signals about the strength of demand: slowing growth in China and plunging U.S. fuel stockpiles. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for August delivery was down 65 cents at $105.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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