US stocks edge higher on Wall Street

STEVE ROTHWELL, AP Markets Writer
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A specialist works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

A specialist works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged mostly higher on Monday, pushing the Dow Jones industrial further into record territory.

The stock market is extending its gains from Friday, when it got a lift from an unexpectedly strong jobs report. Stocks have surged to record levels this year as the Federal Reserve keeps up its economic stimulus and earnings at U.S. companies continue to grow.

Trading in the stock market was muted as bond markets were closed in observance of the Veterans Day holiday.

The Dow rose 15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,776 as of 11:10 a.m. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was flat at 1,770. The Nasdaq composite slipped five points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,914.

Investors this week will look for evidence that Americans are ready to start spending for the holidays. Macy’s, Wal-Mart, Nordstrom and Kohl’s are scheduled to report their quarterly results.

About ninety percent of the companies in the S&P 500 have released their third-quarter earnings, and the majority beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts, according to data from S&P Capital IQ.

Earnings are forecast to grow by 5.6 percent in the July-to-September period, compared with 4.9 percent in the second quarter and 2.4 percent in the same period a year earlier.

Investors will be closely following the Senate Banking Committee’s confirmation hearing for Janet Yellen on Thursday. Yellen is set to succeed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, becoming the first woman to lead the U.S. central bank.

Yellen’s testimony “is coming at an important inflection point,” for financial markets, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. “The market will be looking for any clues” about the Fed’s policy going forward.

The central bank is currently buying $85 billion of bonds every month and holding its benchmark interest rate close to zero in an effort to stimulate economic growth. The Fed’s program has helped support a surge in stock markets by making stocks more attractive relative to bonds.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note jumped last week to 2.75 percent, the highest in six weeks, after the government reported last month’s surge in hiring.

In commodities trading, the price of oil rose 48 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $95.09 a barrel. The price of gold fell $2.50, or 0.2 percent, to $1,282.30 an ounce.

Among stocks making big moves:

— ViroPharma jumped $10, or 26 percent, to $49.42, after the company agreed to be acquired by drugmaker Shire PLC.

— Transocean rose $1.80, or 3.4 percent, to $55.27 after the company said it had agreed to a deal with billionaire investor and minority shareholder Carl Icahn after a months-long proxy fight. The company will pay a $3-a-share dividend and reduce the size of its board.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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