July 16, 2018 / 4:45 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Wall St flat as oil slump offsets earnings optimism

* Energy stocks fall as crude prices tumble over 3 pct

* Bank of America’s strong results lift financials

* Arconic jumps on report of buyout interest from PE firms

* June US retail sales up 0.5 pct

* Dow up 0.09 pct; S&P, Nasdaq down 0.03 pct (updates details, prices)

By Amy Caren Daniel

July 16 (Reuters) - Wall Street was mostly flat on Monday as a slump in oil prices dragged energy shares lower, offsetting a jump in financial stocks after Bank of America’s strong results reinforced expectations of earnings growth for U.S. companies.

The S&P energy sector fell 1.36 percent, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors. Shares of Exxon slid more than 1.0 percent and Chevron fell 1.3 percent. The stocks were the biggest drags on the benchmark index.

Crude oil prices plunged about 4 percent as concerns about supply disruptions eased and Libyan ports reopened, while traders eyed potential supply increases by Russia and other oil producers.

Bank of America rose 2.6 percent after the lender’s quarterly profit beat analysts expectations on lower expenses and growth in loans and deposits.

In contrast to a slide on Friday after JPMorgan, Citigroup and Well Fargo reported results, bank stocks rose. Financials were the biggest boost to the Wall Street’s three major indexes.

The S&P financial sector gained 1.32 percent, while eight of the major sectors of the index were trading lower.

“There is ongoing uncertainty about global economy and possible disruptions, which is somewhat offset by solid economic growth and strong earnings expected in the U.S.,” said Kate Warne, Investment Strategist at Edward Jones.

“We’re looking for a very good earnings season, driven by the impact of the corporate tax cuts, and what most people will be watching for is revenue growth to see what’s happening with the underlying business rather than the impact of the tax cuts.”

With a host of companies expected to report this week, analysts have forecast a near 21 percent surge in second-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Of the 30 S&P companies that have reported earnings through Friday, 86.7 percent have topped earnings expectations, above the 75-percent average of the past four quarters.

At 12:27 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 21.45 points, or 0.09 percent, at 25,040.86, the S&P 500 was down 0.98 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,800.33 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 2.51 points, or 0.03 percent, at 7,823.47.

U.S. retail sales increased a strong 0.5 percent in June, Commerce Department data showed, indicating consumer spending accelerated in the second quarter.

Among stocks, shares of Arconic jumped 9.8 percent on a report that maker of aluminum parts used in planes cars and buildings is the subject of takeover interest from private-equity firms.

Amazon.com Inc gained 1.1 percent and was among the top boosts to the benchmark index as its ‘Prime Day’ shopping event kicked off.

Netflix rose 0.7 percent ahead of its earnings report, expected after markets close.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.00-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.67-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 16 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 53 new highs and 46 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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