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S&P 500 hits record-high finish

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, April 29, 2013.
By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK — U.S. stock indexes advanced on Monday, lifting the S&P 500 to a record close, as investors embraced the latest corporate earnings reports.

Finishing fractionally above its highest finish, registered just over two weeks ago, the S&P 500 index ended up 11.37 points at 1,593.61.

A positive finish to April would deliver a sixth straight month of gains for the S&P 500, the index’s longest winning run since a seven-month stretch that ended in September 2009.

“Earnings have been better than expected, helping prop up investor enthusiasm for stocks,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. “And corporate CEOs are offering reasonably good outlooks for at least domestic conditions in the second half of the year, and that’s supporting equities.”

The U.S. government reported consumers spent more cautiously in March, while income growth softened.

“I think it’s remarkable that the consumer is continuing” to spend, said Luschini, who noted that bond prices and gold were rising along with equities, bolstered by expectations that the Federal Reserve would stay with its current bond-buying program.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended with a gain of 106.20 points at 14,818.75. The Nasdaq composite gained 27.76 points to 3,307.02.

Technology shares were up most strongly, bolstered by Apple Inc., which rose more than 3 percent. The iPhone maker took preliminary steps toward its first debt sales, according to IFR, a division of Thomson Reuters. The money will help fund a $100 billion capital return program for shareholders.

Among notable advancers were ratings agency Moody’s Corp. and McGraw-Hill Cos. after an investors’ group said it would not pursue claims against Moody’s and McGraw-Hill, which owns Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.

Tenet Healthcare Corp. rallied a day before the hospital operator reports quarterly earnings and after UBS ungraded the shares to buy from neutral and U.S. regulators proposed a 0.8 percent reimbursement increase for hospital patients being treated under the government’s Medicare program.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures advanced $13.80 to end at $1,467.40 an ounce.

Policymakers at the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve are gathering separately this week, with the Fed expected to continue its current stimulus.

The economic calendar Monday began with a report on consumer spending showing an increase of 0.2 percent in March. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast spending to rise just 0.1 percent, compared with a preliminary 0.7 percent increase in February and a 0.4 percent advance in January.

And stocks continued to climb after the National Association of Realtors reported pending sales of homes climbed 1.5 percent last month, with the trade group’s chief economist noting that contract activity had narrowed in recent months due to limited supply.

On Friday, the government releases employment numbers for April, with the monthly data typically viewed as the most market-moving among the slated U.S. economic reports.

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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