By Dan Strumpf
Stocks rallied, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average notching an intraday record and shares of small companies and technology stocks recovering some of their recent losses.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 103 points, or 0.6%, to 16687 in midday trading and earlier hit an intraday record of 16695. The rally comes one session after the blue-chip index finished at an all-time closing high of 16583.34.
The S&P 500 added 15 points, or 0.8%, to 1894, clearing its all-time closing high of 1890.91 reached in early April. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 61 points, or 1.5%, to 4132.
Shares of smaller companies, meanwhile, staged a recovery from their recent lows. Such companies have fallen out of favor in recent months as investors have flocked to shares of larger, more attractively-priced companies. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks recently advanced 23 points, or 2.1%, to 1130, though it remains 6.5% off its recent high of 1208.65 reached in March.
News flow in the stock market was light Monday, with the bulk of the earnings season over and little in the way of major economic data due in the session. Steadily improving economic data and better-than-expected earnings reports are helping to lift stocks, say traders and investors.
"The fundamentals of the economy are actually improving," said Brendan Connaughton, chief investment officer at ClearPath Capital Partners, which manages about $250 million out of San Francisco. "Inflation is not an issue. Valuations, although not attractive, aren't in bubble territory or exceedingly expensive."
First-quarter earnings have largely beat estimates, though the pace of earnings growth has slowed. Nearly 91% of companies in the S&P 500 have reported earnings, according to FactSet, with profits on track to grow 2.2% over last year. Analysts had expected a drop in first-quarter profits of 1.1% as recently as late March.
With no major economic data scheduled for Monday, investors were looking ahead to data on retail sales, wholesale and retail inflation, industrial production, consumer sentiment and on the housing market later this week.
Many of the recently beaten-down technology and consumer Internet stocks rebounded on Monday. Twitter rallied 5.2%, after slumping 18% last week. Amazon gained 2.7% and Facebook rose 3.4%.
"Guys are sort of willing to take a bit more risk" and wade back into beaten-up corners of the market, said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities. "We've gotten through earnings season, which was steady if not remarkable and... the macro data has been OK. You're getting to that spot where people are starting to get a little more active."
Corporate news flow was light, but included more deal news.
Pinnacle Foods surged 14% after agreeing to be acquired by Hillshire Brands for roughly $4.3 billion in cash and stock. Hillshire's stock retreated 4.8%.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.656% from 2.621% late Friday.
In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 climbed 0.7% to notch its highest close since January 2008, as investors shrugged off the latest developments in Ukraine.
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine declared victory in Sunday's secession referendum, ratcheting up tensions between the West and Moscow. Russia said it would respect the vote and hopes for a "civilized implementation" of the results. Meanwhile, the West and Ukraine's government call the referendum illegitimate.
Germany's DAX 30 index gained 1.3%, France's CAC 40 tacked on 0.4% and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.5%.
Crude-oil futures gained 0.9% to $100.83 a barrel, while gold futures tacked on 0.3% to $1,291.10 an ounce. The dollar inched higher against the euro and the yen.
Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, which oversees $357 billion, said a combination of better-than-expected quarterly earnings and improving economic data should pave the way for further gains in stocks in the near term.
"By and large the data's been pretty good on the U.S. economy," Mr. Paulsen said. "There's a lot of momentum here. We were put off by the weather but as that starts to dissipate, you're starting to see [improvement] coming back through."
Asian markets were mixed. China's Shanghai Composite shot up 2.1% to a two-week high after the country's State Council said it would move toward less regulated capital markets. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average lost 0.4% after data showing a sharp drop in the current-account surplus.
Write to Dan Strumpf at email@example.com