MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stock Market Climbs To Fresh All-time High To Kick Off Week

By Mark DeCambre and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Gold prices, Japanese yen take a back seat to stocks

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U.S. stocks carved out fresh all-time highs on Monday as investors bought financials, telecommunications and materials shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 77 points, or 0.4%, to 22,346, led by sharp gains in industrials giants Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), up 1.9%, and a 1.4% rise in Boeing Co.(BA). The S&P 500 index advanced 6 points, or 0.3%, to 2,506. Financials (XLF) and materials sectors were higher, leading the S&P 500's 11 sectors.

The technology heavy Nasdaq Composite Index added 28 points, or 0.4%, at 6,477, setting an intraday record at 6,477.51.

Worries about tensions between North Korea and the U.S. seemed to be abating, with investors turning back to equities and other assets seen as riskier.

The path of "least resistance is to the upside at the moment," said Sahak Manuelian, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.

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Manuelian said a recent gain in shares of semiconductor stocks and biotechnology stocks highlighted increased risk appetite. The exchange-traded iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (SOXX) was up 1.8% on Monday, while biotech-ETF SPDR S&P Biotech ETF(XBI) gained 1%.

"Health care is kind of considered a safe spot but when it is the small and [middle-capitalization stocks] rising, it really is about investors' appetite for risk growing as opposed to safety," he said.

However, some market participants saw healthy data domestically and abroad as the key impetus for the re-emergence of equity buying.

"The economic data continue to support the fact that the world economy is doing better," said Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bridge Advisors. "And we have received confirmation from a lot of angles that Europe is finally in recovery," she said.

"All leading indicators are rising and confidence is rising," Ogg said. She said Europe represents about 30% of world GDP on a purchase-power parity basis, adding that "could very well keep the rest of us moving forward."

Wall Street stocks posted sharp gains last week. On Friday, the Dow industrials logged a fourth straight record close (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-futures-steady-paring-losses-that-came-after-latest-north-korean-missile-2017-09-15) and a sixth straight gain. At the same time, The S&P 500 index managed a record finish, its 34th of 2017. Weekly gains for those indexes--up 2.2% and 1.6%, respectively--were the best for the Dow and S&P 500 since late 2016 and early 2017.

Check out MarketWatch's Need to Know column:When the stock market finally implodes, don't say these 3 charts didn't warn you (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/when-the-stock-market-finally-implodes-dont-say-these-3-charts-didnt-warn-you-2017-09-18)

In a possible contributing factor, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-is-looking-for-a-peaceful-solution-to-the-north-korea-crisis-says-rex-tillerson-2017-09-18) said the U.S. seeks a "peaceful solution" and wants to "bring North Korea to the table for constructive, productive dialogue."

But in a separate interview, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said that "all options remain on the table," with regards to pushing Pyongyang to denuclearize (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-again-says-north-korea-must-give-up-nukes-hints-at-military-strike-2017-09-17).

Diplomats at a United Nations gathering in New York are eager to hear President Donald Trump address the 193-member body for the first time on Tuesday where he will likely discuss the Pyongyang threat.

In other global markets, it has largely been a sea of green. In Asia (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asia-pacific-markets-start-the-week-with-gains-2017-09-17), South Korea's Kospi logged its biggest gain since May, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.3%. That is as the Japanese yen and gold prices, both considered havens in times of geopolitical unease, pulled back.

Fed in the spotlight: A highlight for this week will be the Federal Open Market Committee's two-day meeting, which wraps up Wednesday. Investors aren't expecting any changes to interest rates from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, but the central bank is expected to lay the groundwork to start unwinding its $4.5 trillion balance sheet. Yellen is due to a hold a news conference after the meeting.

Read:Fed to take historic leap into the unknown (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-to-take-historic-leap-into-the-unknown-2017-09-14)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-to-take-historic-leap-into-the-unknown-2017-09-14)And:How much longer this stock-market bull run lasts may depend on the Fed's next move (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-much-longer-this-stock-market-bull-run-lasts-may-depend-on-the-feds-next-move-2017-09-17)

Meanwhile, National Association of Home Builders' index for September showed that builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes dropped during the month on worries that the recent hurricanes will make it difficult to find workers and materials.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo housing-market index (https://www.nahb.org/en/news-and-publications/press-releases/2017/09/builder-confidence-drops-three-points-as-hurricanes-add-uncertanity.aspx) fell 3 points to 64, and August's reading was cut by a point to 67.

Stocks to watch: Shares of Orbital ATK Inc.(OA) jumped 21% after Northrop Grumman Corp.(NOC) announced a deal to buy its rival defense contractor (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/northrop-to-buy-orbital-atk-for-78-billion-in-cash-2017-09-18) for $7.8 billion in cash. Shares of Northrop Grumman were up 1.4%.

Silver Spring Networks(SSNI) is up 24% after Itron Inc. (ITRI) says it would buy the Internet-of-things company (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/itron-to-buy-silver-spring-networks-for-a-25-premium-2017-09-18)for $830 million. The deal represents a 25% premium to shares of Silver Spring from Friday's close. Shares of Itron were up 1.6%.

Nabriva Therapeutics PLC(NBRV) is up more than 34% on a positive trial (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nabriva-therapeutics-stock-jumps-50-premarket-on-positive-trial-of-pneumonia-treatment-2017-09-18)for a pneumonia treatment.

Other markets: European stocks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-get-a-lift-as-north-korea-tensions-cool-2017-09-18) posted gains across the board. Crude-oil prices struggled (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-struggle-to-hold-onto-gains-2017-09-18).

Read:German election: Who's Merkel up against and what are their chances? (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/german-election-whos-merkel-up-against-and-how-could-they-shape-the-new-government-2017-08-31)

Gold futures slipped $14.40, or 1.1%, to around $1,310 an ounce, while the dollar shot up to an eight week-high of Yen111.51 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-jumps-to-8-week-high-week-against-yen-as-north-korea-fears-fade-2017-09-18) against the Japanese yen.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 18, 2017 12:34 ET (16:34 GMT)