Stocks closed with modest gains Monday as first quarter reports began in earnest. The Standard & Poor's 500 index extended its rally as investors were encouraged by an increase in an index designed to predict future economic growth.
At the close of trading on Wall Street, the S&P 500 was up 7 points, or nearly 0.4 percent, at 1,872. Last week the index logged its best performance since July after the first major week of earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 40.7 points, or nearly 0.3 percent, to 16,449.3. The Nasdaq composite was up 26 points, or about 0.6 percent, at 4,121.6.
OIL TURNAROUND: Halliburton gained $2.02, or 3 percent, to $62.92 after the company turned a profit in the first quarter following a loss in the same period a year ago. Last year the company set aside money for litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
GROUNDS FOR OPTIMISM: An index designed to predict future economic growth rose in March for the third month in a row, an encouraging sign after harsh winter weather slowed down the U.S. economy. The Conference Board said Monday that its index of leading indicators increased 0.8 percent in March after a 0.5 percent rise in February and a modest 0.2 percent gain in January.