US stock indexes post slight gains, extending winning streak

U.S. stocks posted modest gains Monday, extending a record-setting run into a sixth straight week.

Financial and technology companies notched some of the biggest gains. Energy stocks also rose as crude oil prices closed higher. Health care companies declined the most. Bond prices fell.

The three major stock indexes closed at new highs, despite a day of mostly listless trading as investors looked ahead to a slew of company earnings reports over the next few weeks.

“Today is a sort of wait-and-see market as investors are really looking for the direction of earnings and whether companies continue to report strong results,” said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones. “That will be a catalyst for stocks to move higher.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 4.47 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,557.64. Last week marked the index’s fifth-straight weekly gain.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 85.24 points, or 0.4 percent, to 22,956.96. The Nasdaq composite gained 18.20 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,624. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks inched up 0.02 points to 1,502.68.

Trading was subdued for most of the day Monday. Stocks edged up early on and wavered somewhat by afternoon but ultimately held on to their slight gains as traders awaited for more quarterly results from companies to pour in.

A few companies, mostly big banks, kicked off the third-quarter earnings season last week. Monday was a relatively light day for earnings, but the pace was slated to pick up on Tuesday and into next week, when the bulk of S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report quarterly results.

Among the companies due to report earnings this week are Goldman Sachs, UnitedHealth Group, American Express and General Electric.

In the meantime, investors bid up shares in banks and technology companies. The sectors are the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 so far this year. JPMorgan Chase gained $1.98, or 2.1 percent, to $97.84. Micron Technology rose $1.09 or 2.7 percent, to $41.49.

“Tech and financials are somewhat higher as investors continue to expect good earnings ahead,” Warne said.

Health care stocks declined the most. Allergan fell $7.11, or 3.5 percent, to $198.41, while Bristol-Myers Squibb slid $1.64, or 2.5 percent, to $63.65.

Traders bid up shares of companies announcing deals.

Ruby Tuesday jumped 18.6 percent after the struggling restaurant chain said it has agreed to be acquired by NRD Capital in a deal valued by the companies at $335 million, or $2.40 a share, including debt and other items. The stock added 37 cents to $2.36.

KBR climbed 3.6 percent after the engineering and construction company said it will buy Australian defense technology company Sigma Bravo. Shares in KBR added 64 cents to $18.29.

Nordstrom slid 5.3 percent after the department store chain said it is temporarily shelving its bid to go private. The stock shed $2.25 to $40.40.

Sears Holdings slumped 11.5 percent on news that Bruce Berkowitz, who runs a firm that is the retailer’s biggest shareholder, is leaving Sears’ board of directors. Sears shed 78 cents to $5.99.

Oil prices rose amid rising tensions in the Middle East as Iraqi federal forces moved into the disputed city of Kirkuk and seized oil fields, prompting a withdrawal by Kurdish forces. Benchmark U.S. crude oil picked up 42 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $51.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 65 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $57.82 a barrel in London.

That helped boost energy companies. Apache rose 90 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $42.50.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.62 a gallon. Heating oil added 2 cents to $1.81 a gallon. Natural gas slid 5 cents to $2.95 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.30 percent from 2.27 percent late Friday.

Gold lost $1.60 to $1,303 an ounce. Silver slid 4 cents to $17.37 an ounce. Copper rose 11 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $3.24 a pound.

The dollar rose to 112.22 yen from 111.89 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1792 from $1.1817.

Global stocks closed mostly higher after finance leaders appealed over the weekend for a continuation of low-interest rate policies to keep economic recoveries on track.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 0.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent. The FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.1 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index added 0.5 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index surged 0.8 percent. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent, while the S&P ASX/200 added 0.6 percent. India’s Sensex picked up 0.6 percent. Shares in Southeast Asia were higher.

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