Wall Street finds reasons to climb on a tragic day

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks closed sharply higher on the fourth quarter's first trading day. Joining gun stocks, which jumped in the aftermath of the horrific Las Vegas mass shooting, were health care companies and banks.

Gun manufacturers traded higher, as they often do following large shootings as investors wonder if the violence will lead to greater gun sales. American Outdoor Brands (AOBC), the parent company of Smith & Wesson firearms and Gemtech silencers, initially rose nearly 7 percent before closing up 3.1 percent, or 49 cents, to $15.74. Sturm Ruger (RGR) rose 3.5 percent, or $1.80, to $53.50.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed up 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,529. The Dow Jones industrial average ended 153 points higher, or 0.7 percent, to 22,558. The Nasdaq composite finished up 21 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,517 as technology companies lagged the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks jumped 17 points, or 1 percent, to close at 1,508.

The S&P 500, Dow Jones industrials, Nasdaq and Russell all closed at new record highs on Monday.

In economic news, the Institute for Supply Management reported an extremely robust showing by the U.S. manufacturing sector. The trade group of purchasing managers said U.S. factory activity rose to the highest level in 13 years last month as hurricanes disrupted supplies but drove up demand for manufactured goods.

The ISM said its September manufacturing index rose to 60.8 from 58.8 in August, the highest reading since May 2004. Anything above 50 signals that manufacturers are growing, and the ISM survey shows they've been on a 13-month winning streak.

However, on Monday energy companies plunged as the prices of crude oil and other fuels fall sharply. And Nordstrom (JWN) fell 6 percent after the New York Post said talks to take the department store company private were stalling. The Post reported that the would-be buyers are having trouble getting enough financing to complete the sale, and that the recent bankruptcy of retailer Toys R Us was making that process harder.

Oil prices dropped after oil-field services company Baker Hughes said last Friday that more drilling rigs went into operation last week after two weeks of declines, and Reuters reported that output of OPEC nations grew in September. Both of those reports suggest that oil supplies are rising, which sends prices lower.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.09, or 2.1 percent, to $50.58 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, shed 67 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $56.12 a barrel in London.

Schlumberger (SLB) declined 54 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $69.24, and Halliburton shed 50 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $45.51. Exxon Mobil (XOM) gave up 35 cents to $81.63.

Health insurer UnitedHealth (UNH) picked up $1.55 to $197.44, and genetic testing equipment company Illumina (ILMN) gained $2.57, or 1.5 percent, to $202.23. Botox maker Allergan (AGN) climbed $6.03, or 2.9 percent, to $210.98.

Banks and financial companies also rose. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) added $1.33, or 1.4 percent, to $96.84, and lender Capital One Financial (COF) advanced $1.26, or 1.5 percent, to $85.92.

As Nordstrom slumped following the report about its trouble selling the company to a group of investors, other retailers also felling on concerns about the value of the companies and their ability to raise money. Rival department stores took steep losses. Macy's (M) retreated 93 cents, or 4.3 percent, to $20.89, and Kohl's (KSS) slumped $1.03, or 2.3 percent, to $44.62.

MGM Resorts (MGM) stock fell after a man shot and killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 at a concert at MGM's Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It's one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Police say the shooter was 64-year-old Stephen Paddock and that he shot and killed himself inside the hotel.

MGM Resorts lost $1.81, or 5.6 percent, to $30.77.

The euro declined and Spanish stocks dropped 1.2 percent after reports of widespread violence and unrest as after Catalonians voted on an independence referendum.

Officials in the region, which includes Barcelona and accounts for a large portion of Spain's economy, say an overwhelming majority of voters supported independence from Spain. The central government says the referendum is invalid and illegal. Close to 900 people were injured in confrontations with police who were trying to shut down the voting, although most of the injuries were not serious. More than 30 police officers were also hurt.

The dollar rose to 112.76 yen from 112.51 yen. The euro fell to $1.1738 from $1.1816. That sent most European stock indexes higher, as it makes exports cheaper and boosts overseas company earnings. Germany's DAX advanced 0.6 percent and the CAC 40 of France rose 0.4 percent. The British FTSE 100 index added 0.9 percent.

Wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to $1.56 a gallon. Heating oil slid 4 cents to $1.77 a gallon. Natural gas lost 9 cents to $2.92 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.34 percent.

Gold lost $9 to $1,275.80 an ounce. Silver fell 2 cents to $16.65 an ounce. Copper remained at $2.96 a pound.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent. Markets in Hong Kong and South Korea were closed Monday for national holidays.