Stocks choppy after charge

Wall Street seesaws after a five-week advance. Goldman Sachs surprises with early quarterly report that tops analysts' forecasts.

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By Alexandra Twin, senior writer

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NEW YORK ( -- A rally in financial shares helped stocks cut losses Monday at the end of a choppy session following a five-week advance and ahead of a barrage of quarterly results.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 25 points or 0.3%. The S&P 500 (SPX) index added 2 points or 0.2%. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) was little changed.

Wall Street had tumbled through the afternoon, but managed to trim losses by the close.

After the close, Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) released better-than-expected quarterly results a day ahead of schedule. The bank earned $3.39 per share on revenue of $9.43 billion, topping forecasts.

Goldman said it plans to raise $5 billion through a stock offering, to be used toward paying back its government loan. Shares were little changed in extended-hours trading after rising 4.7% during the session.

Stocks gained last week, rising Thursday after Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) forecast a nearly $3 billion quarterly profit, raising hopes that the bank sector is stabilizing. Financial markets were closed for Good Friday.

"There's some anxiety about the first-quarter numbers, but if we get some positive surprises, that could help," said Dave Hinnenkamp, CEO at KDV Wealth Management.

This week brings quarterly results from a number of financial companies, including Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500). Intel (INTC, Fortune 500), Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) and General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) are among the other big names due to release quarterly results.

On Tuesday morning, Dow component Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500) is expected to report. The consumer products company is expected to have earned $1.22 per share versus $1.26 a year ago, according to a consensus of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Economic reports are due Tuesday morning on wholesale inflation, retail sales and business inventories.

Stocks have been on the rise for five straight weeks on bets that the worst for the economy and financial sector has already happened. The run boosted the Dow 22%, giving it its best five-week run since May 1933, when it rose 31%.

Quarterly results: Profits from S&P 500 companies are expected to have dropped nearly 38% in the first quarter, according to the latest figures from Thomson Reuters. Another quarter of shrinking profits would bring Wall Street's losing streak to seven in a row, the worst run since Thomson started tracking results in 1998.

Wall Streeters are anticipating poor first-quarter results, said Gary Flam, portfolio manager at Bel Air Investment Advisors. But they are also expecting a better outlook, particularly after many companies failed to provide any outlook last quarter.

"The fourth quarter was expected to be poor, but management also said 'we have no visibility, things are too uncertain,'" he said. "This quarter, visibility and stabilization will be the keywords that people listen for on the conference calls."

General Motors: Shares of the automaker plunged 16% on a New York Times report Sunday that said the Obama administration has instructed the company to start preparing for a bankruptcy filing by June 1.

GM (GM, Fortune 500), like Chrysler, has been given billions in loans as the carmaker has struggled to remain solvent in the face of the recession and a slowdown in auto sales. GM has been given until June 1 to gain further concessions from its union and bondholders or face bankruptcy.

On the move: Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) slumped 5% after the company warned late Thursday that first-quarter profit would be hit by weaker-than-expected airplane prices and production cuts on its wide body planes. Markets were closed Friday, making Monday the first day the stock was trading on the news.

In other news, Express Scripts (ESRX, Fortune 500) has agreed to buy WellPoint (WLP, Fortune 500)'s pharmacy benefits management unit in a $4.68 billion deal. Express shares gained 15.5%, while WellPoint shares rose 8%.

Market breadth was mixed. On the New York Stock Exchange, losers topped winners three to two on volume of 1.48 billion shares. On the Nasdaq, decliners and advancers were narrowly mixed on volume of 1.84 billion shares.

Bonds: Treasury prices rose, lowering the yield on the benchmark 10-year note to 2.84% from 2.92% Thursday. Markets were closed for Good Friday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Other markets: In global trading, Asian markets ended mixed and European markets ended higher.

In currency trading, the dollar gained versus the euro and fell against the yen.

U.S. light crude oil for May delivery fell $2.19 to settle at $50.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

COMEX gold for June delivery rose $11.40 to settle at $894.70 an ounce. To top of page

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