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Morning Market Roundup: Spain Weighs on Markets, Oil Down, Retail Up

Here’s what’s important in the financial world this morning:

EU: A jump in the bond yields of Spain weighed on a recovery in European stocks and pushed Asian indexes lower as investors feared Madrid may eventually need a bailout that the eurozone can scarcely afford.

Spain's 10-year bond yield, the rate the country would pay if it were to tap markets for money, jumped to 6.10 percent on Monday from about 5.90 percent on Friday. Yields rose in other financially shaky countries like Italy, but Spain was the focus as investors consider it the next weakest link in the 17-nation eurozone.

"The fiscal spotlight has refocused on the considerable challenges facing Spain," analysts at Capital Economics wrote in a note to clients.

Oil: Oil fell to near $102 a barrel Monday in Asia after negotiators said meetings over Iran's nuclear program last weekend began on a positive note, easing tensions that had sent crude higher.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 82 cents to $102.01 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 81 cents to settle at $102.83 in New York on Friday.

Iran met Saturday in Istanbul with representatives from the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany in a bid to ease fears that Tehran may seek to build nuclear weapons. Officials said the talks began with a positive tone, in contrast to the previous round 14 months ago, which ended without progress.

The sides agreed to meet again on May 23 in Baghdad for further talks.

U.S.: U.S. retail sales rose last month, pushed up by higher sales of electronics and home and garden supplies.

The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.8 percent in March. That's below February's 1 percent increase but above January's pace.

Americans spent more on gas and cars, but the increase was less than the previous month. Excluding car and gasoline sales, retail sales increased 0.7 percent, a healthier gain than in February.

Sales at electronics stores rose 1 percent, the most in five months.

The gain pushed retail sales to a record high of $411.1 billion, 24 percent higher than the recession low hit in March 2009.

Citigroup: Citigroup is reporting a profit of $2.9 billion for the first three months of the year.

The bank says it collected record revenue from processing international transactions by other companies. It was hurt by an accounting charge of $1.3 billion as the value of its debt increased.

The bank says it earned 95 cents a share in the first quarter, falling short of estimates of $1.01 per share from analysts surveyed by FactSet.

As more of its customers paid back their loans on time, the bank was able to take a profit of $1.2 billion from the reserves it had set aside for losses.

Citi's stock is up 14 cents to $33.55 in pre-market trading.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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