Stocks were modestly higher on Monday as Citigroup climbed following its earnings and strong retail sales data suggested consumers were spending at a better-than-expected pace.
Equities pared opening highs as investors stayed cautious about Europe. They were waiting for Spain to formally request a bailout, seen as a necessary step for dealing with the region's debt crisis.
"The market is in a wait-and-see approach, wanting resolution with Europe, and that's why even with positive results in earnings and data, you're still not seeing much follow-through," said Matt McCormick, a money manager at Cincinnati-based Bahl & Gaynor Inc, which has $6.2 billion in assets.
Citigroup Inc rose 2.4 percent to $35.59 after posting adjusted earnings that surged from the prior year and beat expectations. The growth came as mortgage lending increased and capital markets results rebounded.
September retail sales rose 1.1 percent, above the 0.8 percent growth that had been anticipated.
"In the past, this would have been enough to propel shares higher, but today they're not enough to move the needle," McCormick said.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 23.28 points, or 0.17 percent, at 13,352.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 2.16 points, or 0.15 percent, at 1,430.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 9.45 points, or 0.31 percent, at 3,053.56.
Besides the retail sales report, a reading on New York state manufacturing for October in below forecasts.
The S&P suffered its worst week since June last week, though it held above its 50-day moving average of 1,428.38. That level may continue to serve as support.
Profits of S&P 500 companies are seen dropping 2.4 percent this quarter from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data. That would represent the first decline in three years and reflects the impact of China's slowing growth and Europe's debt crisis.
With only 7 percent of S&P companies having reported, 60 percent of companies have topped profit expectations - less than the average beat rate of 67 percent for the past four quarters.
Spain could ask for financial aid from the euro zone next month, euro zone officials said. Spain's requesting help is viewed as opening the way for the European Central Bank to begin purchasing bonds to help shore up Spain's economy.
Sprint-Nextel Corp rose 2.8 percent to $5.89 after Japanese mobile operator Softbank Corp <9984.T> said it would buy up to 70 percent of the company for $20.1 billion. Reports on the deal based on sources led to steep gains in Sprint and its biggest-ever volume on Thursday.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry)