Stocks advanced in thin trading Monday after European finance ministers reassured investors a Greek debt default can be avoided, soothing worries over a spreading euro zone credit crisis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed above the psychologically-important 12,000-mark after snapping a six-week losing streakon Friday amid thin, choppy trading.
Microsoft and Caterpillar led the blue-chip gainers.
The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq turned higher. Many traders are keeping their eyes on the 1,245 to 1,250 as the next support level on the S&P. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, slipped below 22.
Among the key S&P sectors, consumer staples and industrials were the top gainers.
With no notable economic news Monday, “we’re watching the Greek play today,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “The headline is that the political will of the European union is finally meeting economic reality.”
"The approval of the Greek parliament is absolutely essential and it will have to arrive in a timely fashion so we can take a decision on July 3,'' said Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the EU finance ministers.
Meanwhile, Evangelos Venizelos, Greece's new finance minister, said he would strive to ensure the already-reworked austerity package was approved.
Euro zone finance ministers postponed a decision on extending 12 billion euros($17 billion) in emergency loans to Greece, saying Athens would first have to introduce harsh austerity measures.
The ministers said they expected the money, the next tranche in a 110 billion euro bailout of Greece by the EU and the IMF, to be paid by mid-July. Greece has said it needs the loans by then to avoid defaulting on its debt.
The euro gained against a basket of currencies. Meanwhile, gold gained near $1,545 an ounce.
Major financials were trading lower after Citigroup cut its price targets on Bank of America , Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley .
Meanwhile, KBW raised its price target on Discover Financial to $30 from $26.
PNC Financial has reportedly agreed to buy the Royal Bank of Canada’s retail operations for $3.45 billion.
Research In Motion continued to tumble after Bernstein cut its rating on the BlackBerry maker to "underperform" from "market perform."
Apple slipped for a third day, trading below its 200-day moving average.
Jim Albaugh, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes told CNBC Boeing is evaluating options for its 777 range of airplanes, considering whether to upgrade the 777 or build a completely new model.
General Electric reached a tentative four-year agreement with trade unions over job packages.
Ford is spending $1 billion to develop a new generation of vehicles for its struggling Lincoln brand, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Oil prices added to last week's losses, sending drillers such as Transocean and Nabors lower,with U.S. light, sweet crude below $93 a barrel and London Brent crude near $112. Nabors also warned that its pressure pumping and international businesses have been weaker than it expected.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs upgraded a handful of coal stocks, citing rising oil prices. The brokerage upgraded Patriot Coal to "conviction buy" from "neutral," Peabody Energy to "buy" from "neutral" and Consol Energy to "neutral" from "sell."
Harbin Electric skyrocketed almost 50 percent after the Chinese electric motor maker agreed to be taken private by a group led by Chief Executive Tianfu Yang in a deal that values the firm at $750 million.
European shares fellas a delay on further loans for Greece intensified worries about the euro zone debt crisis.
Coming Up This Week:
TUESDAY: Existing home sales, FOMC meeting begins; Earnings from Walgreens, Barnes & Noble, Adobe
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, oil inventories, FOMC meeting announcement; Earnings from FedEx, Bed Bath & Beyond
THURSDAY: Weekly jobless claims, new home sales, money supply, Yahoo shareholders meeting; Earnings from ConAgra, Discover Financial, Oracle
FRIDAY: Durable goods, GDP, corporate profits
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