U.S. Stocks Tick Higher, Notch Monthly Gains

By Michael Wursthorn Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. stocks edge higher

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-- Consumer staples stocks are among the biggest gainers

-- Shares in Europe, Asia broadly rise

Shares of Mondelez International, Kellogg and other food companies helped the S&P 500 edge higher Tuesday, as the index notched its biggest monthly gain since February.

Corporate earnings continued to dictate the market's biggest moves, with companies generally being rewarded by investors when they beat expectations for the most recent quarter. More than half of S&P 500 companies already have released results and another big batch is scheduled to report this week, including Facebook on Wednesday and Apple on Thursday.

"If Apple looks pretty good after their earnings, it will lift the market higher," said Chris Bertelsen, chief investment officer of Aviance Capital Partners, an investment firm with $2.2 billion in assets under management. He, like other investors, expects indexes to grind higher through the rest of this year on earnings and data that continues to paint an upbeat picture of the economy. "After that, I'd be surprised if they moved higher."

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The S&P 500 gained 2.43 points, or 0.1%, to 2575.26, putting its monthly gain at 2.2%. It was the broad index's seventh straight month of advances, its longest streak since May 2013.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 28.50 points, or 0.1%, to 23377.24, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 28.71 points, or 0.4%, to 6727.67, tying its 1980 feat of hitting 62 record closes in a calendar year.

Shares of Mondelez, the maker of Oreo cookies, Wheat Thins crackers and Trident gum, gained $2.13, or 5.4%, to $41.43 after the company reported rising sales and a higher profit. Kellogg, meanwhile, beat sales and profit expectations, helped by sales of its Pop-Tarts and Eggo waffles products. Shares of the food company rose 3.66, or 6.2%, to 62.53.

Those gains led the S&P 500's consumer-staples group 0.8% higher.

Not all corporate results were upbeat. Under Armour shares slid 3.89, or 24%, to 12.52 after the athletic-wear maker issued a reported its first ever quarterly sales decline and cut its growth forecasts. Health insurer Aetna fell 1.20, or 0.7%, to 170.03 after it reported a decline in revenue and raised its profit forecast for the year.

Chip maker Qualcomm declined 3.65, or 6.7%, to 51.01 after The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday that Apple was considering using only chips from Intel and possibly MediaTek in its iPhones and iPads. Shares of Intel were up about 1.12, or 2.5%, to 45.49, while MediaTek rose 8.00, or 2.4%, to 342.50 in Taiwan.

Rockwell Automation surged 13.82, or 7.4%, to 200.82 after The Wall Street Journal reported the manufacturing software maker rebuffed Emerson Electric's takeover bid. Shares of Emerson fell 2.88, or 4.3%, to 64.46.

Aside from corporate news, investors said they planned to closely follow President Donald Trump's announcement of a Federal Reserve chairman, which is expected sometime this week. The Wall Street Journal reported in recent days that Mr. Trump was likely to nominate Federal Reserve governor Jerome Powell, though the president hadn't made a formal decision and could still change his mind.

"It's the biggest political headline that could move the market in the short term," said Jon Mackay, investment strategist of Schroders, who added that Mr. Powell's selection would likely mean the continuation of the current policy path.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.3% and ended the month 1.8% higher.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was mostly unchanged after falling as much as 0.8% earlier in the session. The Nikkei ended October 8.1% higher, its strongest month in two years.

Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite Index reversed early losses to edge up 0.1%, while South Korea's Kospi rose 0.9%, buoyed by gains in heavyweight Samsung Electronics after the company reported another set of record quarterly results.

--Riva Gold contributed to this article

Write to Michael Wursthorn at Michael.Wursthorn@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 31, 2017 17:08 ET (21:08 GMT)