NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks rose moderately Monday after a reading on regional manufacturing came in better than expected and as investors examined details of a government plan to overhaul the way Wall Street is regulated.
The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, considered a precursor to the National Institute for Supply Management manufacturing survey on Tuesday, rose to 48.2 in March from 44.5 a month earlier. Economists had been expecting a reading of 47.3, according to Dow Jones Newswires. A figure below 50 indicates a contraction in manufacturing activity.
The manufacturing snapshot comes as many institutional investors have closed their books for the first quarter, which ends Monday. Investors appeared to be making few big moves. It has been a dismal quarter on Wall Street, with financial companies' continuing credit market losses and the flagging economy wiping out investors' appetite for stocks. While the market has seen a number of up days during the quarter, overall the first-quarter trend was sharply lower.
Wall Street appeared unmoved by a speech from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the plan to reorganize oversight of Wall Street; details of the 218-page plan have been widely reported in recent days. It would give the Federal Reserve increased power to protect the stability of the entire financial system while merging day-to-day supervision of banks into one agency, down from five under the existing system.
Scott Wren, senior equity strategist for A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis said Wall Street was seeing a relatively quiet session as investors await economic data due this week on the manufacturing and service sectors as well as employment.
"Today you're not going to have much movement and it's likely to stay a pretty low volume day just in anticipation on what's going to come in the rest of the week. People are not going to do too much. They're just going to try to wrap up and look ahead," he said, referring to quarter's end.
In late morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.16, or 0.09 percent, to 12,227.56.
Broader stock indicators rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 3.41, or 0.26 percent, to 1,318.63, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 4.55, or 0.20 percent, to 2,265.73.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 385.5 million shares.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.41 percent from 3.45 percent late Friday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.
Light, sweet crude rose 15 cents to $105.77 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In corporate news, Merck & Co. fell $7.12, or 16 percent, to $37.39 and Schering-Plough Inc. declined $5.05, or 26 percent, to $14.42 after medical researchers said the companies' joint anti-cholesterol drug, Vytorin, failed to improve heart disease. The researchers' findings, published on the Internet by the New England Journal of Medicine, urged a return to more established treatments for cholesterol.
Citigroup Inc. plans to split its consumer banking unit from its credit card business as part of a broader reorganization to cut costs and simplify the large financial institution's structure. The company suffered billions of dollars in losses from investments in poor-quality mortgages. Citi rose 27 cents to $21.10.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 1.46, or 0.21 percent, to $684.64.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 2.30 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.09 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 0.61 percent, and France's CAC-40 declined 0.17 percent.
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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.