US stocks edged higher on Monday as investors brushed off fears a leftist victory in Greece would bring fresh crisis to the Eurozone and energy stocks advanced.
The leftist, anti-bailout Syriza party won decisively in Greek parliamentary elections on Sunday, after running a campaign promising to take on Greece’s international lenders and bring about an end to austerity measures.
While the United States has limited direct exposure to Greece’s relatively small economy, extended volatility in the region could hurt multinational companies.
“There was a lot of trepidation in the market going into the Greek election … but by this morning the Syriza win was priced into the market already,” said Robert Francello, head of equity trading for Apex Capital in San Francisco.
Energy stocks led gains on major US indices after Abdulla al-Badri, OPEC’s secretary-general, told Reuters on Monday that oil prices may have reached a floor and could move higher very soon.
Chevron added 1.9 percent to USD 108.88 while Exxon Mobil gained 1 percent to USD 91.76 as the biggest lifts to the S&P 500. The S&P energy index rose 1.4 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 6.1 points, or 0.03 percent, to 17,678.7, the S&P 500 gained 5.27 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,057.09 and the Nasdaq Composite added 13.88 points, or 0.29 percent, to 4,771.76.
In deal news, Rock-Tenn Co and MeadWestvaco Corp said they would combine to form a packaging company worth USD 16 billion, with MeadWestvaco shareholders owning a majority stake.
Rock-Tenn shares jumped 6.1 percent to USD 66.84 while MeadWestvaco surged 14 percent to USD 51.34 as the S&P 500’s biggest percentage gainer.
D.R. Horton Inc climbed 4.9 percent to USD 24.25 after the homebuilder’s revenue growth beat expectations, boosted by home deliveries. An index of homebuilder stocks rose 1.9 percent.
With 19 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported earnings, 71.6 percent have topped expectations, while 54.7 percent have beaten revenue forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters data. That compares with the long-term average of 63 percent for earnings and 61 percent for revenue.
Ocwen Financial Corp jumped 8.8 percent to USD 6.91 after the company paid USD 2.5 million in penalties to the California Department of Business Oversight, which had threatened to suspend Ocwen’s license to operate in the state. About 32 million Ocwen shares exchanged hands, making it one of the New York Stock Exchange’s most active.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,111 to 952, for a 2.22-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,785 issues rose and 987 fell for a 1.81-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The benchmark S&P 500 was posting 38 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 80 new highs and 58 new lows.