NEW YORK - U.S. stocks closed at a record high Monday behind gains for chemical and machinery companies. Energy companies rose as the price of oil continued its recent recovery.
Makers of chemicals and mining companies made the biggest gains, and machinery companies and banks followed. Investors sold government bonds and utility and phone companies. Those stocks climbed earlier in the year as investors sought safety. Stocks have seesawed between small gains and losses for more than a week as investors consider mixed reports on the health of the economy and a decline in corporate earnings. That hasn't stopped them from setting records, but it's kept investors wary.
"The market has run up in anticipation of better earnings ahead," said Brian Nick, chief investment strategist for TIAA Investments. "If those earnings don't come, we have the Wile E. Coyote moment where we're off the cliff...and we're gonna fall."
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 59.58 points or 0.3 percent, to 18,636.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6.10 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,190.15. The Nasdaq composite added 29.12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,262.02.
Second-quarter earnings are nearly all in the books, with this week's releases from retailers Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Target among the last to appear. Corporate earnings are down once again this quarter and investors don't expect much growth in the third quarter either, but they are starting to expect improvement after that.
U.S. crude jumped $1.25, or 2.8 percent, to $45.74 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark used to price international oils, rose $1.38, or 2.9 percent, to $48.35 a barrel in London. After a steep slide for most of June and July, the price of U.S. crude gained 6.4 percent last week.
Drilling rig operator Transocean added 53 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $10.43. National Oilwell Varco picked up $1.04, or 3.1 percent, to $34.85 and ConocoPhillips rose 81 cents, or 2 percent, to $42.18.
Chemicals company LyondellBasell Industries rose $2.16, or 2.9 percent, to $77.49 and mining and energy company Freeport-McMoRan climbed 35 cents, or 3 percent, to $12.17. Aluminum producer Alcoa gained 35 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $10.52.
Utility companies took the largest losses, as Southern Co. declined 86 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $51.49 and Consolidated Edison sank $1.88, or 2.4 percent, to $76.24. Phone companies and household goods makers also slipped.
Real estate investment trust Mid-America Apartment Communities will buy competitor Post Properties for about $3.9 billion in stock. Both companies own large numbers of rental properties, and demand for rentals has boomed in recent years because many people are being priced out of the housing market.
The deal values Post Properties at about $72.53 a share based on Friday's closing prices. The stock rose $5.86, or 9.4 percent, to $68.08 and Mid-America stock lost $5, or 4.9 percent, to $97.15.
Water treatment company Xylem announced a $1.7 billion deal for Sensus, a company that provides smart meters, network technology, and analytics used by water, electric and gas utilities. Xylem stock advanced $1.87, or 3.9 percent, to $50.32.
A survey showed that U.S. homebuilders are feeling more optimistic about the market as prices and sales of new homes rise. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose from last month.
In June new home sales grew by the fastest pace in eight years, aided by continuing job growth and low mortgage rates. Toll Brothers gained 89 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $28.86 and Lennar added 55 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $47.30.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $1.40 a gallon. Heating oil gained 4 cents to $1.45 a gallon. Natural gas held steady at $2.59 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The price of gold rose $4.30 to $1,347.50 an ounce. Silver advanced 14 cents to $19.85 an ounce. Copper picked up 1 cent to $2.15 a pound.
The dollar fell to 101.25 yen from 101.27 yen and the euro rose to $1.1183 from $1.1164.
Japan's economy grew at a lower-than-forecast 0.2 percent pace in the April-June quarter, as private demand and exports remained weak. That could push the Bank of Japan to take additional steps to stimulate the national economy. The bank approved a new stimulus package earlier this month, but that wasn't enough to please investors.
Germany's DAX was up 0.2 percent and the CAC 40 of France dipped less than 0.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 edged 0.3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.7 percent.