S&P maintains upward shifts on low trading

US stocks spent another session in a tight range yesterday, with the S&P 500 ending a few points higher and extending a rally that seems to be happening in slow motion.

The benchmark S&P 500 index finished just a hair away from its highest close in three months, but with earnings season winding down and many traders away, volume was light.

For the next couple of days the greatest influence may be the options market, which is seeing heavy volume in August call and put options clustered around the 1,400 level for the S&P 500.

If the index closes at or very close to 1,400, those options expire worthless on Friday. That means market-makers have an incentive to try to make that happen, or “pin” the index at 1,400.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 7.36 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 13,164.78. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 1.60 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 1,405.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 13.95 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 3,030.93.

Shares of Deere & Co lost 6.3 per cent to $75.10 after the world’s largest agricultural equipment maker reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit. Rival Caterpillar slipped 0.3 per cent to $87.61 as the biggest drag on the Dow.

Staples slumped 14.6 per cent to $11.49 as the worst performer on the index after the office supply chain reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue on weak demand in North America, Europe and Australia, and forecast flat sales for the fiscal year.

In economic data, US industrial output expanded 0.6 per cent last month, the fastest pace since April.