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Stocks rise ahead of company earnings reports

U.S. stocks were slightly higher in afternoon trading Monday as investors wait for first-quarter company earnings to start rolling in. Overseas markets were also rising as investors hoped for more stimulus in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was up 79 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,654 as of 2:25 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose six points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,054 and the Nasdaq composite rose 16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,867.

ALCOA AND EARNINGS: First-quarter earnings reports get underway this week with results from aluminum mining giant Alcoa. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect the company report a loss of two cents per share, hurt by lower commodity prices.

Alcoa shares were up 36 cents, or 4 percent, to $9.73.

Later this week the nation’s largest banks will start reporting their results, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo. Expectations are low for this earnings season. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect a decline of 9.1 percent in earnings from a year earlier.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 64 cents to close at $40.36 a barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 90 cents to $42.85 a barrel in London.

TRAFFIC JAM: Hertz Global Holdings fell $1.01, or 11 percent, to $8.69 after the rental car company cut its full-year earnings forecast. The company said the car rental industry is suffering from too much capacity and competition.

MORE YAHOO DRAMA: Yahoo rose 62 cents, or 2 percent, to $36.69 after news reports said the U.K.’s Daily Mail was interested in purchasing the company. The Daily Mail confirmed the reports on Monday.

CHINESE STIMULUS: Investors globally were encouraged by economic data out of China, which showed inflation remains tame within the world’s second-largest economy. Low inflation could provide a reason for Chinese officials to offer more monetary stimulus to keep the Chinese economy from slowing further.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices were mostly unchanged. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained steady at 1.72 percent. The dollar edged lower 107.95 yen from 108.10 yen in the previous trading session. The euro was slightly higher at $1.1409.

METALS: Precious and industrial metals prices closed higher. Gold climbed $14.20 to $1,258 an ounce, silver jumped 59 cents to $15.98 an ounce and copper edged up less than a penny to $2.09 a pound.

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