Dow passes through 11,000 as earnings seasons begins
The blue chip Dow index closed above the 11,000 level for the first time in 18 months as investors looked ahead to solid first-quarter earnings season.
As usual, Alcoa kicked off with its report after the closing bell.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 8.62 points, or 0.2%, up at 11,005.97, helped by a 2.2% gain by Alcoa. The benchmark traded above 11,000 for all of the session.
Other economically sensitive Dow stocks strengthened, including Caterpillar, up 2.5%, and General Electric, up 1.6%. Chevron advanced 1.4% as crude-oil prices rose above $US85 a barrel.
Expectations are running high for the earnings season, with analysts expecting to see profits at companies in the S&P 500 index rise by more than a third overall, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The S&P has also flirted with an important benchmark in recent trading, hovering just shy of 1200. It ended 0.2% up at 1197.49, led by gains in its energy and financial sectors.
The Nasdaq Composite also finished up 0.2% to 2457.87, helped by a 19% surge in Palm after it hired advisers to explore a potential sale, according to Bloomberg News.
European stocks retreated from their highs as investors remained uncertain about the proposed €30 billion Greek bail-out package.
The Stoxx Europe 600 ended little changed. The UK's FTSE 100 ended 0.1% higher at 5777.65, In Paris, the CAC-40 and Germany's DAX finished nearly flat at 4050.50 and 6250.69 respectively.
Asian markets were mixed, with Tokyo's Nikkei Stock Average of 225 companies gaining 0.4% to 11251.90, helped by yen weakness, which lifted export shares.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7% to 4984.27, hitting a fresh 19-month high during the session.
Korea's Kospi fell 0.8% to 1710.30, China's Shanghai Composite gave up 0.5% to 3129.26, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.3% to 22138.17.
In Thailand, the weekend clashes with protesters spurred continued selling by foreign investors. The benchmark index fell 3.6%. India’s Sensex was down 0.4% to 17,853 and Singapore’s Strait Times was up 0.2% to 2977.17.
Commodities: Oil steady, gold up
Oil futures drifted, as continued concern over high supply levels in the US was balanced by signs of stronger demand from China.
Light, sweet crude for May delivery traded up 5USc at $US84.97 a barrel in New York. Oil prices have fallen over the past three trading sessions from a 17-month high near $US87 a barrel.
Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange traded 35USc, or 0.4% higher at $US85.18 a barrel.
Gold futures initially raced higher on the Greece bailout but later slipped back as doubts rose. April gold is up $US2.40, or 0.2%, to $US1163.50 an ounce in New York.
Most-active May silver backed down from its overnight high of $US18.605 but remains up 2.4USc, or 0.1%, to $US18.375.
June gold peaked at $US1170.70, its strongest level since December. The jump occurred with a surge in the euro to $US1.3693, its strongest level against the dollar since March 18.
Currencies: Euro up, yen down
The euro gained strongly after a Greek aid package announced over the weekend but later came off its earlier highs against the dollar.
The euro is at $US1.3607 from $US1.3495 late on Friday. The dollar was at ¥93.15 from ¥93.17, while the euro was at ¥126.73 from ¥125.64.
The UK pound was at $US1.5389 from $US1.5381. The dollar was at 1.0579 Swiss francs from 1.0660 francs.