Dow opens more than 150 points higher after strong Bank of America earnings

U.S. stocks opened higher on Monday as the corporate earnings season continued with Bank of America reporting better-than-expected quarterly results.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 188 points. The S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent, with industrials as the best-performing sector. The Nasdaq composite also advanced 0.6 percent.

Bank of America‘s earnings and revenue topped Wall Street estimates, which were helped by loan growth and lower corporate taxes. Shares of Bank of America rose about 1 percent before the bell.

The earnings season is off to a good start thus far. Last week, BlackRock, J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup reported better-than-expected earnings. Netflix is scheduled to release its quarterly results Monday after the close.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on January 31, 2014 in New York City

Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on January 31, 2014 in New York City

Wall Street has high expectations for this earnings season, with analysts expecting a 17.3 percent increase in first-quarter earnings, according to FactSet.

“This represents a high bar for stocks to get over and [the] pattern of the past 20 years is that stocks have tended to struggle when upside earnings surprises have slowed,” said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird. “Elevated earnings expectations are coming with stock market valuations stretched.”

Investors also shrugged off an attack against Syria. Last week, the U.S. military conducted precision missile strikes against the Syrian government as a response to a chemical attack carried out in the country. The attack was conducted in conjunction with France and the U.K.

The Pentagon described the U.S.-led strikes as a “justified, legitimate and proportionate response” to the Syrian regime’s continued use of chemical weapons. Consequently, oil prices fell nearly 1 percent on Monday.

Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank, said investors are able to shrug off such news in part because of the strong economic backdrop. “You’ve also got so much coming out of Washington that makes investors nervous, but not panic unless it’s an immediate threat,” he said.

In economic news, U.S. retail sales rose 0.6 percent in March, boosted by a 2 percent jump in auto sales.

—CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this report

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