FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2019, file photo specialist Patrick King, left, and trader Fred DeMarco work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, Oct. 28. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

S&P 500 on track for record high in busy week of earnings

October 28, 2019 - 2:54 pm

Stocks marched higher on Wall Street in afternoon trading Monday, extending the market's gains into a fourth week and driving the S&P 500 on track for an all-time high.

The rally comes at the beginning of a busy week of corporate earnings, new economic data and expectations of another interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve.

Technology, health care and communication services stocks were powering the market's latest gains, outweighing losses in real estate, utilities and household goods makers. Energy stocks also fell as crude oil prices headed lower. Banks rose along with bond yields, which help set interest rates for mortgages and other loans.

Investors continued to pore over company earnings reports Monday. Some 156 companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to issue their quarterly results this week. Google parent Alphabet was due to issue its results later Monday.

The company news, in addition to new economic data on housing, consumer confidence and hiring will give investors a clearer diagnosis of the economy's health. Traders will also closely watch the Fed's latest decision on interest rates Wednesday.

Microsoft rose after winning a Pentagon contract. Other technology companies also climbed. AT&T led broad gains for communications companies.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.85% from 1.80% late Friday.

The S&P 500 rose 17 points, or 0.6%, to 3,040 as of 2:26 p.m. Eastern time, about 14 points above the record set on July 26.

The market could also have history on its side today, according to Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial.

"October 28 is historically the best day of the year for stocks," he said in a note to investors. According to Detrick, the average gain on Oct. 28 is 0.54% which would give the S&P 500 a close of 3,038.87.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 135 points, or 0.5%, to 27,093. The Dow is still about 1% below its record set on July 15.

The Nasdaq climbed 1%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks also rose 1%.

FULL WEEK: The market could be in for a more volatile ride this week. Alphabet, Google's parent company, reports earnings results later Monday. General Motors and drugmakers Merck and Pfizer release results on Tuesday. Apple and Facebook report on Wednesday.

Several important economic reports will be issued this week. The government will release its closely watched monthly employment report on Friday. Economists expect a slight increase in the unemployment rate to 3.6% in October from 3.5% in September.

Meanwhile, Wall Street widely expects the Fed to cut its benchmark short-term rate to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%. It would be the central bank's third interest rate cut this year.

MARRIAGE PROPOSAL: Jeweler Tiffany soared 30.9% after being courted by French luxury group LVMH with a $14.5 billion buyout offer. LVMH owns fashion names including Christian Dior, Givenchy and Tag Heuer. The offer comes as Tiffany struggles with stagnating sales.

BIG CLOUD: Microsoft rose 2.5% after The Pentagon on Friday awarded the software company a $10 billion cloud computing contract. The long-established technology company beat Amazon, the early front-runner, for the hefty award.

CALL RECEIVED: AT&T rose 4.3% after the company said it will look for more parts of its business to sell off and add two new board members after pressure from an activist investor.

Hedge fund Elliott Management said it supported AT&T's plans. It had called for changes in September as it revealed a 1% stake in the wireless company.

OVERSEAS: European markets closed broadly higher. The European Union agreed Monday to give Britain a three-month extension for its planned departure from the 28-member trading bloc. It had been set to leave on Oct. 31. The extension gives both sides more time to make a deal that will cover trade and other issues.

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AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.

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