US stocks edged up on Monday, lifting the Dow to another record closing high in light volume on Veterans Day while investors turned their focus to how soon the Federal Reserve may begin reducing stimulus.
Although stocks closed higher on Friday, a robust October jobs report rekindled expectations that the Fed may reduce its stimulus efforts sooner than expected. A Reuters survey showed that more US primary dealers now expect the Fed to trim its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases before March.
The day's slight gains came on light volume, with the US government and the bond market closed for Veterans Day. The S&P 500 also came close to ending the session at a record high.
"The focus is right again back to the Fed. The thinking is perhaps the taper has been moved forward. Maybe it's not going to be March, maybe December," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president of BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
Among the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainers, Transocean Ltd shares gained 3.6 percent to $55.37 after the company said it reached an agreement with investor Carl Icahn in which the offshore driller will pay a dividend of $3 per share and reduce the number of board seats. The S&P 500 energy index rose 0.2 percent and ranked among the day's better performers.
Twitter Inc, which went public amid much fanfare last week, climbed 3 percent to $42.90.
The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 21.32 points, or 0.14 percent, to 15,783.10, a record closing high. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added just 1.28 points, or 0.07 percent, to finish at 1,771.89. The Nasdaq Composite Index inched up only 0.56 of a point, or 0.01 percent, to close at 3,919.79.
The Nasdaq index, which has the strongest year-to-date gains of all three major indexes, has been underperforming the broader market recently. While the Dow and the S&P 500 each posted a fifth week of gains on Friday, the Nasdaq registered a slight loss for the week.
After the bell, shares of News Corp declined 3.3 percent to $16.85. Rupert Murdoch's company reported a steeper-than-expected decline in revenue in its first quarter that it was split off from its more profitable sister entertainment business Fox.
During Monday's regular session, large technology companies had the biggest negative impact on the Nasdaq, with Apple Inc slipping 0.3 percent to $519.05.
Shares of ViroPharma jumped 25.5 percent to $49.42 following news that London-listed Shire is buying