U.S. Stocks Rise; S&P 500 Nears Record

U.S. stocks furthered their record climb on Monday, bringing the S&P 500 within nine points of an all-time high and the Dow industrials extending their longest winning run in nearly a year.

“The Dow is what gets all the news among the public, as it is more widely recognized, but for the insider and for technical reasons, it’s more important for the S&P 500 to breach its previous closing high,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

The S&P 500 index  added 5.04 points, or 0.3%, to 1,556.22, leaving it around nine points from its closing high of 1,565.15, hit in October 2007.

The financial sector led the gains, with shares of Genworth Financial Inc.  jumping 6.7% after Barron’s reported that the shares of the recently reorganized life insurer and provider of mortgage securities could nearly double in the next year.

After hitting an all-time high last week on a better-than-expected monthly jobs report, the Dow industrials  on Monday chalked up another record finish, its fifth in a row, after climbing for a seventh consecutive session to end at 14,447.29, up 50.22 points, or 0.4%. The winning streak is the longest since March 15, 2012.

“As long as there is this widely held view that we’re in for a correction, we’re likely not going to have one,” added Luschini of expectations that the market was due for a pullback, given the more than 10% rise by the Dow so far this year.

The Nasdaq Composite index  added 8.51 points, or 0.3%, to end at 3,252.87.

Advancers just outpaced decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where almost 599 million shares traded. Composite volume approached 3 billion.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for April delivery  erased losses to finish at $92.06 a barrel, up 11 cents, or 0.1%. Gold futures  rose $1.10, or 0.1%, to settle at $1,578 an ounce on the Comex division on the NYMEX.

U.S. equities reversed course Monday as investors bought into a dip that came after disappointing data from the world’s second-largest economy.

“With China’s revival that we had seen coming out of last year, these figures collectively were a little bit of a setback,” said Luschini, referring to economic reports that had Chinese consumer prices rising, consumer spending slowing and industrial production slowing. The reports were likely impacted by China’s Lunar New Year holiday, he added. See: China’s inflation climbs; other indicators soften.

Intrade halted trading, with the Irish online betting service saying it is looking into possible financial irregularities. See: All bets off as Intrade shuts down.

Icahn Enterprises LP  said it signed a confidentiality pact with Dell Inc. , less than a week after investor Carl Icahn joined those opposed to co-founder Michael Dell’s plan to take the personal-computer maker private. Shares of Dell gained 1.5%. Shares of Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc.  fell nearly 11% after the retailer projected profit below expectations.