US stocks rise slightly ahead of 1Q reports

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 11.21 points, or 0.09 percent, at 12,571.41

MarketWatch: In-depth global business coverage The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 11.21 points, or 0.09 percent, at 12,571.41 SHARES TEL AVIV Closed for Pessah holiday. WALL STREET US stocks were up slightly Monday afternoon as investors kept a cautious tone ahead of what is expected to be a weak first-quarter earnings season, while sentiment was only modestly boosted by deal news and a delayed reaction to Friday's stronger-than-expected jobs report. "People are reevaluating what the jobs report means for inflation, interest rates, and for earnings," said Paul Nolte, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates. "It's not good at all for inflation and it keeps the [Federal Reserve] under pressure to keep rates higher." Earnings, meanwhile, are already on a downtrend and might get squeezed even more by higher labor costs, he said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 11.21 points, or 0.09 percent, at 12,571.41, while the S&P 500 rose 1.5 points to 1,445 and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.1 points to 2,472. The technology-heavy index recovered from an early drop to 2,464. Tech shares were hit early after Advanced Micro Devices lowered its first-quarter revenue forecast and said it would aim to cut $500 million in capital spending in 2007. AMD, which has lost 40% since the start of 2007, rebounded 5% on the news, while semiconductor equipment makers such as Applied Materials Inc. and KLA Tencor Corp. fell. By sector, transportation , natural gas and metals miners led the gains, while financials, networking and semiconductors fell. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. shares rallied on news that Berkshire Hathaway has accumulated a 10.9% stake in the company. Other railroad companies were also rallying, including CSX Corp., Union Pacific Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp. The main boost to the market Monday came from reports of another huge leveraged buyout, keeping intact the recently heavy flow of deal news. Dow Chemical Co. jumped 6% after an unsourced report in the UK's Sunday Express said a buyout approach of the firm is days away. The paper said the break-up bid for Dow Chemical would be between $52 and $58 a share, against Friday's close of $44, and values Dow Chemical at a minimum of $50 billion. A Dow Chemical spokesman said the company has no interest in a leveraged buyout. In other deal news, Dow Industrials component Citigroup was little changed after saying it would buy Taiwan's Bank of Overseas Chinese for about $426m. in cash. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2007. EUROPE Closed for Easter holiday. ASIA Asian stock markets were buoyant on Monday, led by shares in Shanghai and Tokyo. The Bank of Japan began a two-day policy meeting at which it's expected to leave its key rate unchanged at 0.5%. Tokyo's 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average closed up 1.5% at 17,743.76. The broader Topix gained 1.2% to 1,738.10. Shanghai's Composite index climbed 2.3% to 3,398.95 while the Singapore Straits Time index rose 1.5% to 3,394.62. South Korea's Kospi added 1.1% to 1,501.06. Bangkok's SET bucked the trend and declined. Stock markets in Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines were closed for holidays. In Tokyo, the BOJ policy meeting began with investor and analyst expectations that the central bank would continue to keep its key overnight call rate at 0.5%. The central bank raised the rate a quarter point to it current level in February. That was the first increase since the BOJ ended its zero-interest-rate-policy with a quarter-point increase in July. CURRENCY The dollar hovered near a six-week high against Japan's yen and rose against the euro Monday, as traders played off growth in US non-farm payrolls for March that was much stronger than expected. The dollar rallied Friday, lifted by the jobs report. The growth in payrolls raised the prospect that the Federal Reserve's next move on interest rates may be a further hike rather than a cut. In New York trading, the dollar was quoted at 119.35 yen, compared with 119.30 yen late Friday. The euro stood at $1.3349, compared with $1.3373. COMMODITIES Crude-oil futures fell sharply Monday, as traders dismissed news that Iran can produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale. Crude oil for May delivery fell $2.65, or 4.12%, at $61.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday that Iran has entered an "industrial stage" in its production of nuclear fuel, the BBC reported. His statements will likely further escalate tensions with the West over the country's efforts to enrich uranium. "Iran's announcement that it has begun industrial scale uranium enrichment has been largely shrugged off, and sources see scope for a move toward $62 in the coming sessions," said analysts at Action Economics. Gold for June delivery declined $2.40 at $677 an ounce on the Comex division of the NYMEX. MarketWatch: In-depth global business coverage