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Strong Earnings and Retail Sales Data

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A massive jump in retail sales has delivered a major boost to investor sentiment ahead of the opening bell. This key metric of economic heath posted its biggest jump in 18 months during March. Meanwhile, first-quarter earnings continue to roll in today with several bellwethers posting results ahead of the opening bell.

Among notable companies slated to report earnings before the market opens are Philip Morris (PM - Free Report) , American Express (AXP - Free Report)  and Honeywell (HON - Free Report) . While the spotlight now shines on other sectors, banks like BB&T Corp. (BBT - Free Report)  and SunTrust Banks (STI - Free Report)  are also releasing earnings numbers.

Philip Morris beat on both lines with earnings of $1.09 per share exceeding the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 99 cents. Net revenues of $6,751 million beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $6,735 million. However, the top line declined 2.1% in the reported quarter.

Honeywell also beat both estimates for both earnings and revenues. Earnings of $1.92 per share exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.83. Honeywell’s first-quarter revenues came in at $8,884 million, surpassing the consensus estimate of $8,621 million. Notably, the top line declined 14.5% year over year.

While American Express’ first quarter earnings of $2.01 exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny, sales fell short. Revenues of $10.36 billion for the quarter ended March 2019 missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.21%. This compares to year-ago revenues of $9.72 billion.

Major banks continue to release earnings with BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks both beating on earnings in the first-quarter. However, while SunTrust also beat on the topline, BB&T’s revenues clocked in at of $2.90 billion, lagging the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.91 billion.

Retail sales increased 1.6% in March, easily exceeding the consensus estimate for an increase of 0.9%. The headline number was primarily boosted by a 3.1% jump in sales of new cars and trucks. This was the category’s best performance to date this year.

But with the average price of gasoline spiking nearly 10% in March, sales at gas stations also jumped 3.5%. This is the second straight sharp increase for the category. But excluding autos and gasoline, sales still gained a solid 0.9%. Notable winners for the month included online retailers, as well as home-furnishing and clothing stores.