U.S. Stocks Tick Higher, on Track for Monthly Gains

By Michael Wursthorn and Riva Gold 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, putting the index on track for its best month since February.

Corporate earnings continued to dictate the market's biggest moves, with companies generally being rewarded by investors when they beat expectations. More than half of S&P 500 companies already have released quarterly 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 was recently up 0.2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 21 points, or 0.1%, to 23367. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4% and was on pace to tie its 1980 record of notching 62 record closes in one year.

Shares of Mondelez, the maker of Oreo cookies, Wheat Thins crackers and Trident gum, gained 5.5% 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 were up about 5.8% in recent trading.

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

Not all corporate results were upbeat. Under Armour shares slid more than 17% after the athletic-wear maker issued a profit warning and missed revenue expectations. Health insurer Aetna fell 0.6% after it reported a decline in revenue and raised its profit forecast for the year.

Chip maker Qualcomm fell 7.3% after The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was considering using only chips from Intel and possibly MediaTek in its iPhones and iPads. Shares of Intel were up about 2.4%, while MediaTek rose about 2.4%.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note was little changed at 2.372%, according to Tradeweb, from 2.374% on Monday. Yields fall as bond prices rise.

Bond markets have also been driven in recent sessions by speculation about future leadership at the Federal Reserve, with President Donald Trump expected to announce his pick to head the central bank sometime this week.

"The chairperson of the Fed has a significant role in influencing the course of financial markets," said Jason Borbora, portfolio manager at Investec Asset Management. He said he thinks other members of the Fed and economists within it will remain largely unchanged, mitigating the impact on monetary policy of a change in leadership.

The Stoxx Europe 600 edged up 0.3%, with trading volumes expected to be curbed by a holiday in Germany. Shares of British oil giant BP rose 1.9% after it said it expects production to increase in the next quarter and plans to restart its share-buyback program.

Earlier, Japanese equities pared losses but banks underperformed after the nation's central bank said it would maintain its easy-money measures to spur inflation and lowered some of its price forecasts.

The Nikkei Stock Average had fallen as much as 0.8% earlier in the session but recovered to close flat. The Nikkei ended October 8.1% higher, its strongest month in two years.

Elsewhere in the region, the Shanghai Composite Index reversed early losses to edge up 0.1%, while the Shenzhen stock benchmark was up 0.5%.

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.9%, buoyed by gains in heavyweight Samsung Electronics after the company reported another set of record quarterly results.

Write to Michael Wursthorn at Michael.Wursthorn@wsj.com and Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 31, 2017 12:27 ET (16:27 GMT)