Markets closed up today:
▲ Dow: +0.58 percent
▼ Nasdaq: -0.09 percent
▲ S&P: +0.27 percent
▲ Gold: +0.24 percent to $1,776.80 an ounce
▲Silver: +0.51 percent to settle at $34.74
▲ Oil: +0.38 percent
Stocks were up because:
U.S. stocks mostly rose on Monday following a better-than-expected Institute for Supply Management report claiming manufacturing grew for the first time in four months, a report Zero Hedge believes misleads Americans on the actual state of the economy.
“Perhaps the White House's Alan Krueger had run out of explanations for why the economy is collapsing into Q4, and finally made sure going forward all economic data will be better than expected,” writers at Zero Hedge note half-jokingly. “At least until the election of course.”
The ISM, a trade group of purchasing managers, also said its gauge of manufacturing employment rose following a decline in August and that U.S. builders spent more on home construction in August.
“In other news, construction spending plunged to -0.6% from -0.4%, on expectations of a +0.5% increase,” the Hedge notes. “But who cares: today housing is irrelevant as somehow the US manufacturing industry is improving, all other signs to the contrary be damned.”
Despite the mixed economic data, investors responded positively to the ISM report and stocks closed on a mostly positive note. The Dow Jones industrial average rose as much as 161 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose as much as 1.1 percent.
But market indexes gave up most of their gains in the afternoon. The decline started after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed needs to keep interest rates low because the economy isn't growing fast enough to reduce high unemployment. Bernanke made the remarks in a speech to the Economic Club of Indiana.
It wasn't clear whether investors were reacting directly to Bernanke's remarks or just taking profits from a morning in which stocks showed their strongest gains in two weeks. Monday was only the third day since Sept. 17 that the S&P 500 has risen.
The S&P closed 0.3 percent higher, rising 3.82 points to 1,444.49. The Dow rose 77.98 points to close at 13,515.11. The Nasdaq composite fell 2.70 points to close at 3,113.53.
Monday was the first day of trading of the fourth quarter, and the early gains were a welcome change from the way the last quarter ended. U.S. indices fell on Friday for the fifth day out of six.
Markets around Europe rose. Results last Friday of an audit of 14 Spanish banks showed the lenders need $77.6 billion in capital. That was roughly what was expected, and well within the amount Madrid can get from fellow European countries.
A slight improvement in a survey of manufacturing in the 17 countries that use the euro also helped.
However, credit rating agency Moody's might downgrade Spain's debt to junk status this week. That's likely to limit enthusiasm in Europe until the Moody's decision is known.
Germany's DAX stock index rose 1.5 percent, France's CAC-40 was up 2.4 percent, and Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.4 percent. Spain's Ibex was up 1 percent.
The euro slightly to $1.2886 from $1.2855 late Friday.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged from late Friday at 1.63 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.