Wall Street To Start Little Changed After Data, Earnings

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Wall Street was set to open little changed on Monday as U.S. economic data painted a mixed picture, but Citigroup reported a better-than-expected increase in profit.

* Empire State rises but retail sales disappoint

* China's Q2 growth slows, but not as much as some had expected

* Citigroup shares jump after earnings

* Futures up: Dow 34 pts, S&P 3.4 pts, Nasdaq 6.25 pts

Wall Street was set to open little changed on Monday as U.S. economic data painted a mixed picture, but Citigroup reported a better-than-expected increase in profit.

Shares of Citigroup advanced 2.5 percent after the third-largest U.S. bank by assets reported a 26 percent increase in adjusted quarterly profit and said adjusted net income rose to $3.89 billion, or $1.25 per share.

Amongst the day's economic data, New York state manufacturing for July saw stronger-than-anticipated growth, but June retail sales disappointed.

An advance on Wall Street during Monday would push major indexes to new peaks. Both the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 ended Friday's session at record closing highs, though the point and percentage gains for the day were slim.

Futures had a slightly positive tone earlier in the morning after data overseas suggested the slowdown in economic growth in China, the world's second-largest economy, was not so great as some had feared.

China's annual growth in gross domestic product slowed to 7.5 percent from April to June. Analysts also said the slowdown could encourage the government to push harder on reforms, including investment to encourage more domestic consumption.

At home investors will likely be turning their attention to gauge the strength of U.S. companies and the economy as earnings season continues, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"The Fed has indicated that the U.S. economy is growing enough for them to potentially consider tapering and the market has responded in a very positive way," said Meckler.

"Now's the time to prove it out through a combination of earnings and better economic numbers."

Over the past three weeks, the benchmark S&P 500 has erased losses of nearly 6 percent from the selloff triggered by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in late May, when he first raised the prospect of trimming the Fed's $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. Since then, Bernanke and other Fed officials have reassured investors that the central bank will keep monetary policy loose for some time.

S&P 500 futures rose 3.4 points but were slightly above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 34 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 6.25 points.

Analysts expect S&P 500 companies' second-quarter earnings to have grown 2.8 percent from a year earlier, with revenue up 1.5 percent, data from Thomson Reuters showed.

Airlines over the weekend expressed confidence in the safety of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner following a fire on one of the jets last week. Boeing's shares were up 1.5 percent at $103.30 in premarket trade.

Investors' attention will be on Bernanke's testimony in front of lawmakers later in the week. Fed Board Governor Daniel Tarullo will speak on regulatory reform on Monday.

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