WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Stocks have moved moderately higher during trading on Monday, with the major averages adding to the slim gains posted last Friday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has reached its best intraday level in well over three months, while the S&P 500 has set a more than two-month intraday high.
Currently, the major averages are off their highs of the session but remain in positive territory. The Nasdaq is up 62.13 points or 0.4 percent at 14,187.61, the S&P 500 is up 11.65 points or 0.3 percent at 4,525.67 and the Dow is up 85.45 points or 0.2 percent at 35,032.73.
The strength on Wall Street partly reflected recent upward momentum, which comes amid ongoing optimism about the outlook for interest rates.
Recent data showing signs of easing inflation has reinforced investor expectations that the Federal Reserve will leave rates unchanged at upcoming meetings.
CME Group's FedWatch Tool currently indicates the Fed is likely to remain on hold until cutting rates beginning in mid-2004.
Potentially shedding additional light on the outlook for rates, the Fed is due to release the minutes of its latest monetary policy meeting on Tuesday.
Reports on durable goods orders, existing home sales and weekly jobless claims may also attract attention in the coming days.
However, overall trading activity this week may be somewhat subdued due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday.
The Conference Board released a report this morning showing its reading on leading U.S. economic indicators fell by more than expected in the month of October.
The report said the leading economic index slid by 0.8 percent in October after falling by 0.7 percent in September. Economists had expected the index to decrease by 0.6 percent.
Tobacco stocks have shown a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index up by 2.1 percent to its best intraday level in over three months.
Considerable strength is also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 1.5 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Steel Index.
Energy stocks are also seeing notable strength amid a continued surge by the price of crude oil, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Monday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index shot up by 1.9 percent and China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.5 percent, although Japan's Nikkei 225 Index bucked the uptrend and fell by 0.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are both down by 0.2 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries have moved to the downside after ending last Friday's trading roughly flat. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 2.2 basis points at 4.463 percent.
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