US stocks up as Alcoa kicks off reports season

US STOCKS advanced yesterday heading into the start of earnings season, building on gains sparked by last week’s robust employment report and pushing the S&P 500 closer to May’s all-time high.

Dell shot up 3.1 per cent to $13.44 after the largest US shareholder advisory firm recommended that shareholders vote for chief executive Michael Dell’s $24.4bn buyout offer.

Investors have been largely focused in recent months on when and to what degree the Federal Reserve will slow its $85bn-a-month bond purchase programme.

Markets were rattled by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s comments last month that the economy is expanding briskly enough for the central bank to pull back on the pace of purchases later this year.

Still, investors were encouraged by last Friday’s better-than-expected jobs report as it suggested the economy was on good footing.

The S&P 500 has climbed in four out of the past five sessions, nearing its 21 May all-time closing high of 1,669.16.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 88.85 points, or 0.59 per cent, to end at 15,224.69. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 8.57 points, or 0.53 per cent, to 1,640.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 5.45 points, or 0.16 per cent, to close at 3,484.83.

Dow component Alcoa reported results after the market’s close, which is typically seen as the start of earnings season. Shares rose 1.8 per cent to $8.06 in after-hours trade, closing up 1.4 per cent at $7.92.