NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock indices closed higher on Monday after a three-day Easter holiday break and as investors await critical earnings reports in the week ahead.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.25% to 16,449.25, the S&P 500 gained 0.38% to 1,871.89 and the Nasdaq climbed 0.64% to 4,121.55. The gains marked the S&P's fifth straight positive session.
- Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) reported earnings of 86 cents a share on revenue of $1.27 billion. Analysts expected first-quarter earnings of 83 cents a share on revenue of $1.27 billion. Shares popped more than 3% during after-hours trading.
- Halliburton (HAL - Get Report) shares edged up 3.3% after topping first-quarter earnings expectations by 2 cents at 73 cents a share as revenue came in better than expected. Latin America was the only region where the company didn't experience growth.
- Kimberly-Clark (KMB) surpassed Wall Street expectations by a penny with first-quarter earnings of $1.48 a share. Revenue slightly missed estimates. Shares lost 1.4% on Monday.
- To the week ahead, McDonald's (MCD), AT&T (T) and Comcast (CMCSA) are due to report Tuesday, Boeing (BA), Facebook (FB) and Procter & Gamble (PG) are due Wednesday and Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN) and General Motors (GM) are due Thursday.
- According to Thomson Reuters data, of the companies which have reported so far, around 63% have topped earnings expectations. Fewer than one-fifth of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings this season.
- The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.8% to 100.9 in March, its third consecutive monthly increase. The Conference Board economists said the increase points to accelerated growth as the economy rebounds from inclement weather and a strengthening labor market.
- The Nikkei 225 in Japan settled down 0.03% after a government report indicated that Japan's exports rose 1.8% in March from the year before, widely missing the expected 6.3% increase. Hong Kong markets were closed for Easter Monday. Major European markets were closed for the Easter holiday.
- Tensions in Ukraine flared up after a gunfight on Sunday left three people dead at a pro-Russian checkpoint in eastern Ukraine. The escalation in violence threatened an agreement signed by the U.S., the E.U., Russia and Ukraine in Geneva last week that aimed to diffuse tensions in the region.
- S&P Capital IQ's chief equity strategist, Sam Stovall, said that the S&P 500 is now in the early stages of its seasonally vulnerable period, likely prompting investors to start thinking more about stability of price and quality of earnings. "It would appear natural to us that investors now begin re-emphasizing large-cap stocks over the more volatile and expensive small-cap issues," he said in a note.
-- By Andrea Tse, Keris Alison Lahiff and Joe Deaux in New York