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MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Edge Higher; S&P 500 Nears Record

05/04/2015 | 02:03pm US/Eastern

By Anora Mahmudova and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

Factory orders climb 2.1% in March, first increase in 8 months

U.S. stocks rose moderately on Monday, with the S&P 500 trading near its previous closing record.

Investors digested a report on factory orders, which rose 2.1% in March, mostly in line with expectations. Monday's gains follow the rally on Friday, when stocks posted their largest one-day gain in a month.

The S&P 500 (SPX) rose 7 points, or 0.3%, to 2,116 with eight of its 10 main sectors trading higher. Utilities, financials and health-care stocks were leading gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 57 points, or 0.3%, to 18,081, while the Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) rose 17 points, or 0.3% to 5,022.

Sohn Conference live blog: Einhorn takes aim at frackers (http://blogs.marketwatch.com/thetell/2015/05/04/sohn-conference-live-blog-top-investors-make-their-picks/)

Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bridge Advisors, noted the resilience of markets to mediocre earnings and data.

"Perhaps, markets are looking past the 2015 earnings and discounting 2016 earnings, climbing higher. However, when stocks are fairly priced and investors are nervous, as they are right now, any bad news can result in a massive selloff," Ogg said.

Ogg noted that in a slow-growth environment, corporations are able to adjust to imbalances without causing recessions. "When the economy is growing at 2% pace, there is no impetus to hire or invest in capital expenditures. Though, with wages ticking up and labor market tightening, we expect companies will pick up in capital spending," he noted.

Data: Orders for goods produced in U.S. factories rose 2.1% in March. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected orders to climb 2.4% after a revised 0.1% decline in the prior month.

Wall Street is looking ahead to the nonfarm-payrolls report due Friday. Forecasters predict job creation in April will bounce back significantly after a disappointing 126,000 increase in March, the weakest reading in 15 months.

Read: Roses or thorns? Wall Street awaits pivotal jobs report for April (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/roses-or-thorns-wall-street-awaits-pivotal-jobs-report-for-april-2015-05-03)

Stocks to watch: Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (>> Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp) shares jumped more than 8% after the company reported a 9.7% increase in profits and 20% rise in revenues, well above expectations. The stock was the best performer on the S&P 500.

Keurig Green Mountain Inc.(>> Keurig Green Mountain Inc) shares dropped more than 4% ahead of its earnings on Tuesday.

Corinthian Colleges Inc.(>> Corinthian Colleges Inc) plunged 6% as the for-profit school operator filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

McDonald's Corp. (>> McDonald's Corporation) shares were slightly lower after chief executive Steve Easterbrook unveiled turnaround plan.

Shares of Charter Communications Inc.(CCMMV) rose 1.7% after The Wall Street Journal (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/charter-expresses-interest-in-friendly-deal-talks-with-time-warner-2015-05-03-15103119) reported that the company has begun an overture to the management of Time Warner Cable Inc. (>> Time Warner Cable Inc) about a friendly merger.

For more on today's notable movers, read Movers & Shakers (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/comcast-cablevision-tyson-foods-earnings-in-focus-2015-05-01).

Other markets: The German DAX 30 index was up 1.5%, leading gains for European stocks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-edge-lower-with-uk-market-closed-2015-05-04) after the release of robust manufacturing data for the eurozone. London markets are closed for a bank holiday.

China's Shanghai Composite Index , meanwhile, closed higher on Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/china-shares-drift-lower-2015-05-03), recovering from earlier losses after data showed the country's manufacturing activity slowed more sharply than forecast. Tokyo markets were closed for a holiday.

The dollar regained some strength on Monday, with the euro (EURUSD) pulling back to $1.114, a 0.5% drop. Oil prices (CLM5) also moved higher, along with gold (GCM5).

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