Stocks Climb to New Highs; Home Builders Gain

NEW YORK (AP) -

For stocks on Monday, the path of least resistance was up.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial average both edged up to all-time highs on a day that was light on economic news and company releases.

Toll Brothers, a builder of luxury homes, rose after saying its revenue surged in the most recent reporting period. Dean Foods jumped after the dairy company reported a much smaller loss than expected for its third quarter and projected a profit for the current quarter.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 6.34 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,038.26. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 39.81 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,613.74. The Nasdaq composite climbed 19.08 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,651.62.

About 90 percent of companies in the S&P 500 have reported their third-quarter results, and their earnings are projected to rise at an average rate of 8.9 percent for the period, according to S&P Capital IQ data. That compares with growth of 4.9 percent in the same period a year ago, and 10.4 percent in the second quarter.

Earnings are also forecast to keep growing at a broadly similar pace in coming quarters.

The economy is also providing companies with a sound base. Reports last week showed that U.S. manufacturing continued to expand and hiring remained healthy.

On Monday, health care stocks rose the most of the ten sectors in the index. They climbed almost 1 percent, extending their gains for the year to 22 percent.

Home builders rose after Toll Brothers said that its revenue rose 29 percent in the most recent quarter and average sales prices rose. Toll Brother’s stock climbed 73 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $32.95.

Other companies in the industry, including Lennar Corp., PulteGroup and D.R. Horton also rose.

Cable companies were among the day’s losers after President Barack Obama said regulators should reclassify the internet as a public utility.

Time Warner Cable fell $7.10, or 4.9 percent, to $136.50. Comcast fell $2.20, or 4 percent, to $52.95.

Energy companies also resumed their slide as the price of oil dropped again.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.25 to close at $77.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.05 to close at $82.34 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. That’s the lowest close for Brent since October 2010.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury edged up to 2.35 percent from 2.30 percent. The yield was at 3 percent at the start of the year.

Later in the week investors will be taking stock of retail company earnings to gain insight into how much American shoppers are spending ahead of the year-end shopping season. Macy’s, Nordstrom and Wal-Mart will report their earnings. The government will also release its retail sales data for October on Friday.

The dollar edged higher against the Japanese yen, climbing 0.3 percent to 114.89 yen. Against the euro, the U.S. currency was little changed at $1.2424.

In metals trading, gold fell for the eighth time in nine days, sliding $10, or 0.9 percent, to $1,159.80 an ounce. Silver dropped 4.3 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $15.67 an ounce. Copper fell 1.9 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $3.02 a pound.

In other energy futures trading on the NYMEX:

– Wholesale gasoline fell 3.4 cents to close at $2.109 a gallon.

– Heating oil fell 3.1 cents to close at $2.469 a gallon.

– Natural gas fell 15.7 cents to close at $4.255 per 1,000 cubic feet.