July 15, 2016 / 3:12 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-S&P, Dow mark new highs on strong retail sales data

* Financials drop after disappointing Citi, Wells results

* Nice attack weighs on travel and airline stocks

* Indexes up: Dow 0.16 pct, S&P 0.12 pct, Nasdaq 0.08 pct (Adds details, comments, updates prices)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

July 15 (Reuters) - The Dow and the S&P 500 inched up on Friday, hitting new highs after strong U.S. retail sales data and a rise in biotech stocks, offset disappointing results from big banks.

Retail sales rose more than expected in June as Americans bought motor vehicles and a variety of other goods, reinforcing views that economic growth picked up in the second quarter.

Data showed China’s economy unexpectedly grew in the quarter, helping push world stocks to eight-month highs. But an attack in Nice, France that killed at least 84 people weighed on sentiment.

Tepid results from Citi and Wells Fargo failed to match up to the expectation set by JPMorgan’s strong numbers on Thursday.

Citi’s second-quarter profit dropped less than expected, while Wells Fargo’s profit fell in line with expectations.

Citi shares were off 0.3 percent, while Wells Fargo’s 1.8 percent fall made it the biggest drag on the S&P 500.

The financial index dipped 0.2 percent, making it the biggest loser among the 10 major S&P sectors and the only one in the red for the year.

“Strong economic data and investors realizing that there is no short-term impact from the Brexit vote are making the equity markets stronger,” said Anthony Roth, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust.

At 10:43 a.m. ET (1443 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 29.9 points, or 0.16 percent, at 18,536.31. It hit 18,557.43, marking its fourth intraday high in a row.

The S&P 500 was up 2.57 points, or 0.12 percent, at 2,166.32. The index has been hitting new highs everyday of the week and touched a record of 2,169.05 on Friday.

The Nasdaq Composite added 3.83 points, or 0.08 percent, to 5,037.89.

The three indexes are on track to post their third straight week of gains.

Seven of the 10 major S&P indexes were higher, led by a 0.6 percent rise in the healthcare sector.

Celgene rose 1.9 percent to $103.4 after the European Commission approved its flagship multiple myeloma drug for another indication and Stifel initiated coverage with a “buy” rating.

Following news of the Nice attack, shares of travel operators and airlines dropped on fears about travel to Europe.

Priceline, Expedia and TripAdvisor were down 1-2 percent, while Delta, Southwest and United Continental were also down 1-2 percent.

Herbalife jumped 14.4 percent to $67.91 after the weight-loss products maker agreed to pay the FTC $200 million to avoid being classified a pyramid scheme.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,786 to 1,002. On the Nasdaq, 1,527 issues rose and 1,022 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 24 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 47 new highs and 13 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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