Investors had little news to weigh because most major companies have finished reporting first-quarter results.
The Dow Jones industrial average added 26.32 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,298.88. The Standard & Poor’s rose 6.47 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,129.20 and the Nasdaq composite rose 30.15 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,078.44.
Among the winners was Apple, which rose $1.42, or 1 percent, to $130.19. Activist investor Carl Icahn published a letter Monday calling for the technology giant to buy back more of its own stock. Icahn said Apple is worth $240 a share. Apple and Icahn have fought the last couple of years, but Icahn has been mostly successful at getting Apple to increase its share buybacks and dividends recently.
While the S&P 500 has notched record highs for three straight days, strategists caution that it will be difficult for the stock market to move substantially higher from here.
First-quarter results are tallied up, and the Federal Reserve appears to be waiting to raise interest rates until later this year.
“We will need to see a clear turnaround in the economic data and start to see earnings growth for investors to find some confidence in this market,” said David Lebovitz, a global market strategist with JPMorgan Funds.
Meanwhile, U.S. homebuilders are feeling slightly less confident about their sales prospects, a reflection of the sluggish start to this spring’s home-selling season.
Even so, builders’ overall sales outlook remains favorable. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Monday slipped to 54 this month, down two points from 56 in April.
There were a couple minor corporate deals to work through. Ann Inc., the parent company of Ann Taylor and Loft, jumped $7.69, or 20 percent, to $46.40 after it agreed to be acquired by The Ascena Retail Group. Pharmaceutical company Endo International fell $4.58, or 5.4 percent, to $80.77 after it agreed to buy the privately held Par Pharmaceutical for $8 billion.
In the energy markets, the price of oil fell for the fourth straight session Monday. Oil has been drifting lower on high supplies of crude and fuels, and a rising dollar has been making oil less attractive to overseas buyers.
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 26 cents to close at $59.43 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, fell 54 cents to close at $66.27 in London.
In other futures trading on the NYMEX, wholesale gasoline fell 1.6 cents to close at $2.041 a gallon, heating oil fell 1.8 cents to close at $1.987 a gallon and natural gas fell 0.6 cent to close at $3.010 per 1,000 cubic feet.
U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.23 percent from 2.15 percent Friday.
The euro slipped $1.1304 from $1.1390 on Friday. The dollar climbed to 120 yen from 119.38 yen on Friday.
In metals trading, gold rose $2.30 to $1,227.60 an ounce, silver rose 17 cents to $17.73 an ounce and copper edged down two cents to $2.91 a pound.