U.S. stocks traded higher on Monday, following positive momentum from Europe, as investors looked ahead to a week of Federal Reserve speeches and economic data that could shed light on the timing of an interest rate hike.
“The first quarter is behind us, whether it’s earnings or data,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, noting several economic reports for April expected in the next few days. “It’s all about the data that’s fresh and forward-looking.”
The S&P 500 attempted to hold above its closing high of 2,117.69, as health care led most sectors higher. The Dow Jones industrial average briefly added 100 points and held above 18,000, about one percent away from its closing high. The Nasdaq Composite traded above 5,000, with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) gaining more than 1 percent as the fund tried to stay above its 50-day moving average.
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“The focus this week is really on Friday’s jobs report. Expectations are for a snapback in the second quarter,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment officer at Janney Montgomery Scott.
“Any information we’ve had is good but not strong enough for the Fed to raise interest rates too soon,” he said.
Ahead of Friday’s important jobs report for the month of April, factory orders for March showed a gain of 2.1 percent, the biggest increase in eight months and above expectations of a 1.9 percent increase. However, the underlying trend remained weak against the backdrop of a strong dollar.
Later in the day, several central bank policymakers will speak, including a keynote address from Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans at the annual meeting of the Columbus Economic Development Board. San Francisco Fed President, John Williams, will speak on job creation at a separate event.
Analysts also noted market optimism on potential for mergers and acquisitions. Most recently, seed company Monsanto made an offer to buy Switzerland’s Syngenta, Bloomberg reported last week, citing sources.
“It seems like people are starting to focus on the acquisition piece of things,” said Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bridge Advisors. While she would prefer to see more capital expenditure, she said the market seems to be shaking off any softness in earnings.
“The worst seems to be over… and the market seems to be taking mediocre news in stride,” she said. “My guess would be maybe the impact of the dollar and lower energy prices is not as bad as people thought.”
Reporting before the bell, Comcast, the NBCUniversal parent earned 81 cents per share for the first quarter, seven cents above estimates, with revenue also above forecasts. Comcast also added $2.5 billion to its existing stock buyback program.
Sysco, the no. 1 U.S. food distributor, reported a 2 percent fall in quarterly profit, hurt by a rise in meat and poultry prices, a strong dollar and higher expenses.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 73 points, or 0.40 percent, at 18,097, with United Technologies and 3M leading advancers and McDonald’s the greatest laggard.
The S&P 500 traded up 9 points, or 0.42 percent, at 2,117, with health care leading all 10 sectors higher.
The Nasdaq traded up 23 points, or 0.47 percent, at 5,028.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 13.
About two stocks advanced for every decliner on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 174 million and a composite volume of 795 million in morning trade.
The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield traded near 2.10 percent. The U.S. dollar traded flat, with the euro slightly lower at $1.116.
Crude oil futures fell 56 cents to $58.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures gained $16.20 to $1,190.70 an ounce as of 10:56 a.m.
Asian and European shares traded marginally higher on Monday, although U.K. stock markets were closed for a public holiday. Markets were boosted after tepid manufacturing data from China raised hopes that Beijing would unveil further stimulus measures to boost the economy.
Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.
—Reuters and CNBC’s Katy Barnato and Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.
Earnings: Anadarko Petroleum, Concho Resources, DaVita, EOG Resources, Fidelity Natl. Fincl., Invensense, Sturm Ruger, Tenet Healthcare
12:25 p.m.: Chicago Fed President Charles Evans
3:10 p.m.: San Francisco Fed President John Williams
Earnings: Disney, News Corp., Electronic Arts, Groupon, Mylan Labs, Archer Daniels Midland, Estee Lauder, Discovery Communications, Kellogg, NobleEnergy, TRW Automotive, Vulcan Materials, Devon Energy, LendingClub, PioneerNatural Resources, Plains All American, Allstate, HCA, DirecTV, UBS, Herbalife, Zuliliy, Weight Watchers, Newfield Exploration, SolarCity
8:30 a.m.: International trade
9:45 a.m.: Services PMI
10:00 a.m.: ISM nonmanufacturing
8:00 p.m.: Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota
Earnings: Tesla Motors, Marathon Oil, Sunoco Logistics, Transocean, TripAdvisor, A-B InBev, GlaxoSmithKline, Occidental Petroleum, Chesapeake Energy, HollyFrontier, Motorola Solutions, 3D Systems, SodaStream, Wendy’s, Activision Blizzard, 21st Century Fox, Keurig Green Mountain, WholeFoods, Rayonier , WebMd
7:30 a.m.: Mortgage applications
8:15 a.m.: ADP private payrolls
8:30 a.m.: Productivity and costs
9:15 a.m.: Fed Chair Janet Yellen and IMF MD Christine Lagarde on panel
10:30 a.m.: DOE oil, gasoline inventories
1:15 p.m.: Kansas City Fed’s Esther George on credit markets panel
1:30 p.m.: Atlanta Fed Dennis Lockhart on monetary policy
Earnings: Alibaba, Orbiz, Time Inc, CBS, Monster Beverage, Zynga, Fortress Investment, SeaWorld, Regeneron, Siemens, Apache, ArcelorMittal, BTGroup, ING Group, Alcatel-Lucent, Norwegian Cruise Line, Nuance Communications, Nvidia, Molson Coors, Apollo Global Management, Elizabeth Arden, Cyber ArkSoftware, Tesoro, Teradata
8:30 a.m.: Weekly jobless claims
8:30 a.m.: PPI
Earnings: Toyota, JD.com, BioCryst Pharma, Liberty Media, AOL, Health Care Reit, NRG Energy, Sirona Dental Systems
8:30 a.m.: Employment report
10:00 a.m.: Wholesale trade