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Stocks close higher amid earnings, M&A activity but dollar and oil cap gains

U.S. equities closed higher on Monday amid a plethora of corporate news, but gains were subdued by a rising dollar and falling oil prices.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 129.33 points at session highs before closing about 75 points higher, with 3M and Boeing contributing the most gains. The S&P 500 rose 0.47 percent, with information technology rising 1.2 percent to lead advancers. The Nasdaq composite outperformed, posting its best day since September 21.

"As oil came off, the market lost some of its steam," said Daniel Deming, managing director at KKM Financial. "The market is getting perspective after the big merger news, with oil falling and the dollar further appreciating."

U.S. crude fell 0.65 percent to settle at $50.52 per barrel after Iran said it wanted to be exempt from an OPEC deal which would cut production. Crude prices have rallied recently on expectations that OPEC would strike a deal to cut worldwide output.

The U.S. dollar held 0.1 percent higher against a basket of currencies, with the euro near $1.087 and the yen around 104.2. The Chinese yuan, meanwhile, traded near six-year lows against the U.S. currency.

U.S. stocks have been holding in a narrow range recently, falling 1.1 percent over the past three months, as trading volume has remained unseasonably low. "I think there aren't that many players that want to get into this market unless we break out of this range," said KKM's Deming.

AT&T reached a deal to buy Time Warner on Saturday for more than $85 billion, or $107.50 per share. The combination brings Time Warner full circle back to the heady days of the first Dotcom bubble, when it created a merger of equals with AOL— which failed spectacularly in achieving its goals and resulted in an eventual breakup.

"We're in an expanding phase of risk in both financial markets and the broader economy," said Rob Lutts, chief investment officer at Cabot Wealth Management. "The merger activity is a step [in that transition.]"

"We're going to end 2016 and start 2017 on a strong note behind this," he said. " I would expect M&A activity ... to continue."

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Getty Images
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

TD Ameritrade also announced it's buying Scottrade for $4 billion in a two-step deal with TD Bank. TD Ameritrade said said it would end up paying $2.7 billion for Scottrade's brokerage business after the sale of Scottrade Bank to Toronto-Dominion Bank's U.S. banking unit for $1.3 billion.

Meanwhile, airplane interior maker B/E Aerospace saw its stock surge 16.4 percent after announcing it's being bought out by Rockwell Collins for $6.4 billion.

"When you see these companies looking at each other and making bids, that tells you that at least someone thinks there is some value out there," said Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bride Advisors. Ogg also said, however, that she doesn't expect much more M&A activity until after the U.S. election and companies get a better sense of what the regulatory environment will be like.

Earnings season continued with T-Mobile, VF Corp, Restaurant Brands and Kimberly-Clark all reporting quarterly results before the bell. Visa and Zions Bancorp are among the firms scheduled to post results after the bell after the close.

The price-to-earnings ratio in stocks "is a bit above historical averages, but if the 'E' starts going higher, then that makes it easier for investors to move into the market; I think that's what is holding them back," said Diane Jaffee, senior portfolio manager at TCW.

This week will be the busiest one of the season, with more than 160 S&P companies and 13 Dow components scheduled to report.

"The Q3 reporting season continues to progress swimmingly as roughly 79% of S&P 500 companies have exceeded their bottom line forecast by nearly a whopping 6%. More importantly, profit projections for 2017 in aggregate have yet to budge materially since Alcoa announced their quarterly results," Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities, said in a note to clients.

"If these estimates hold firm through year-end, then forward multiples should organically decline as we proceed through the calendar to give themselves enough room below their ceiling since 2014 to allow for a classic Santa Claus rally," he said.

The economic data calendar was light on Monday, with only the IHS Markit manufacturing index's flash read for October released. The number rose to 53.2 from a three-month low of 51.5, which was hit in September.

"The latest reading signalled a solid upturn in overall business conditions, and the rate of improvement was the fastest since October 2015. Stronger output and new business growth were the key factors boosting the headline PMI, which helped offset a drag from softer job hiring in October," IHS Markit said in its report.

Several Federal Reserve officials spoke Monday, including Chicago Fed President Charles Evans. He said the Fed needs to keep interest rates lower for longer, so investors are convinced the central bank is serious about reaching its inflation target of 2 percent. Powell

James Bullard, the St. Louis Fed president, said in a speech Monday morning that low interest rates are likely to be the norm over the next 2-to-3 years, as the U.S. is under a low-productivity growth regime.

U.S. Treasurys traded lower, with the two-year note yield at 0.844 percent and the benchmark 10-year yield around 1.77 percent.

Overseas, European equities closed nearly flat after better-than-expected data, while political uncertainty in Spain dissipated. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell 0.01 percent, while Spain's Ibex 35 gained 1.27 percent. In Asia, stocks closed mostly higher, with the Japanese Nikkei 225 rising 0.29 percent and the Shanghai composite gaining 1.21 percent.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
DJIA
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S&P 500
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NASDAQ
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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 77.32 points, or 0.43 percent, to close at 18,223.03, with Microsoft leading advancers and Merck the biggest laggard.

The S&P 500 gained 10.17 points, or 0.47 percent, to end at 2,151.33, with information technology leading eight sectors higher and telecommunications the biggest decliner.

The Nasdaq advanced 52.42 points, or 1 percent, to 5,309.83.

About nine stocks advanced for every five decliners at the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 782.48 million and a composite volume of 3.277 billion in at the close.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded lower near 13.1.

Gold futures for December delivery fell $4 to settle at $1,263.70 per ounce.

—CNBC's JeeYeon Park and Reuters contributed to this report.

On tap this week:

Monday

Earnings:

ATB: Visa, Zions Bancorp, Sonic

Tuesday

Earnings:

BTB: 3M, Caterpillar, DuPont, Eli Lilly, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Merck, Novartis, Procter & Gamble, United Technologies, Corning, Freeport-McMoRan, KeyCorp, KKR, Lockheed Martin, Pentair, Sherwin-Williams, Sprint, TD Ameritrade, Under Armour, Valero Energy, Whirlpool, AK Steel, II-VI, Janus, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, TransUnion

ATB: Apple, AT&T, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Capital One, Discover Financial, Express Scripts, Juniper Networks, Vertex Pharma, iRobot, Pandora Media, Panera Bread, Owens-Illinois

9 a.m.: Case-Shiller Home Price Index

9 a.m.: FHFA Home Price Index

10 a.m.: Consumer confidence

10 a.m.: Richmond Fed Survey

1 p.m.: $26 billion two-year Treasury note auction

1:20 p.m.: Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart speaks on lending and investing in community development

Wednesday

Earnings:
BTB: Biogen, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Comcast, GlaxoSmithKline, Mondelez International, Nintendo, Simon Property Group, Boston Scientific, Canon, General Dynamics, Hess, Nasdaq OMX, Norfolk Southern, Northrop Grumman, Southwest Air, State Street, Syndham Worldwide, Alliance Bernstein, Garmin, Generac, GrubHub, Owens Corning, Six Flags

ATB: Samsung Electronics, Tesla Motors, Texas Instruments, F5 Networks, Arch Capital, Murphy Oil, Newmont Mining, NXP Semiconductor, Public Storage, Suncor, VMWare, Western Digital, Whiting Petroleum, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cheesecake Factory, Extra Space Storage, Groupon, Rent-a-Center, Shutterfly, Raymond James

8:30 a.m.: U.S. trade deficit

9:45 a.m.: Markit services PMI

10 a.m.: New home sales

1 p.m.: $34 billion five-year Treasury note auction

Thursday

Earnings:

BTB: Barclays, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Colgate-Palmolive, ConocoPhillips, Deutsche Bank, Dow Chemical, Ford, UPS, Volkswagen, Aetna, Alexion Pharma, Autoliv, Blackstone, Borg Warner, CBRE Group, CME Group, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Gannett, International Paper, Invesco, L-3 Communications, Marathon Petroleum, National Oilwell Varco, Nokia, Nomura Holdings, Potash, Praxair, Raytheon, Sirius XM Radio, Stanley Black & Decker, T. Rowe Price, Thermo Fisher, Brunswick, Cabela's, Cliffs Natural Resources, GNC Holdings, Lazard, Old Dominion Freight Line, Pinnacle Foods, Sealed Air

ATB: Alphabet, Amazon.com, Baidu, Amgen, Deckers Outdoor, Aflac, Digital Realty Trust, Cirrus Logic, Columbia Sportswear, Cypress Semiconductor, Eldorado Gold, Flex, Fortinet, Federated Investors, VeriSign, Yamana Gold

8:30 a.m.: Jobless claims

8:30 a.m.: Durable goods

10 a.m.: Pending home sales

10 a.m.: Housing vacancies

11 a.m.: Kansas City Fed Survey

1 p.m.: $28 billion seven-year Treasury note auction

Friday

Earnings: Chevron, Exxon Mobil, A-B InBev, MasterCard, AbbVie, UBS, Ambev, BNP Paribas, Sanofi, AutoNation, Cabot Oil & Gas, Hershey, Phillips 66, Shire, Weyerhaeuser, Xerox, Apollo Global Management, Bloomin' Brands, CBOE Holdings, Legg Mason, Oaktree Capital, Tenneco

8:30 a.m.: Q3 GDP, advance

8:30 a.m.: Employment cost index

10 a.m.: Consumer sentiment

*All times Eastern. Planner subject to change.