Gains in utilities offset a retreat in energy shares yesterday, leaving US stocks slightly higher as investors remained nervous about third-quarter corporate results.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47.37 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 17,131.86, the S&P 500 gained 2.57 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 2,017.46 and the Nasdaq Composite added 8.17 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 4,838.64.
The Dow rose for a seventh straight session, led by gains in UnitedHealth Group, which rose 2.7 per cent at $122.51.
This week brings results from some top US banks, and investors are eyeing a projected 4.8 per cent year-over-year decline in third-quarter S&P 500 earnings, according to Thomson Reuters data. That would be the worst earnings season in six years.
A 1.1 per cent drop in the energy index was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 as oil prices retreated five per cent.
Traders are “taking profits on some very nice moves, particularly on the oil patch”, said Jim Paulsen, chief investment officer at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis.
Other analysts said it may be a somewhat bullish sign that the market did not sell off after last week’s sharp gains.
“Given how strong last week was, and we’re going to get into the heart of the third-quarter earnings season, the market has been relatively resilient,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
EMC’s shares were up 1.8 per cent at $28.35 after computer maker Dell said it would buy the data storage company in a $67bn (£43.65bn) deal.