S&P 500 pauses at record high

Monday, October 21, 2013 - 8:38am

The S&P 500 inched further into record territory Monday as investors shift their focus from Washington to corporate earnings and the economy.

The S&P 500, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq all held modest gains in early trading.

McDonald's shares fell after the fast food chain reported earnings that met expectations, but global sales growth was tepid. Halliburton shares fell after the oil field services company's earnings met expectations.

Netflix is among the companies slated to release quarterly results after the market closes.

On the economic front, the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales fell 1.9% in September. The group said rising interest rates and the fallout from the government shutdown will weigh on the housing market in the months ahead.

Stocks finished higher Friday, continuing a rally in the aftermath of the end of U.S. government debt and budget crisis.

Peter Cardillo, chief economist at Rockwell Global Capital, said the rally "seems to have long legs," driven by decent earnings reports. But he added that "the market will be looking for an excuse" to pull back by 1% or 2%. That excuse, he said, might be the October jobs report, which will be released Tuesday after being delayed by the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Bank stocks were in focus following news that JPMorgan Chase and the Department of Justice have tentatively agreed to a $13 billion civil settlement to resolve several investigations into the bank's mortgage securities business.

European markets were mixed in midday trading. Asian markets closed higher Monday.


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