The Dow and S&P 500 rose on Monday as concerns about the strength and timing of an economic recovery kept pressure on commodity prices and lifted defensive stocks.

The push into sectors likely to outperform in a down economy boosted the Dow and helped healthcare stocks like Merck & Co , up 3.3 percent at $27.89, and consumer staples like Procter & Gamble
up 2.1 percent at $52.17, both in New York Stock Exchange trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 44.13 points, or 0.53 percent, to end unofficially at 8,324.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 2.29 points, or 0.26 percent, to finish unofficially at 898.71. But the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dropped 9.12 points, or 0.51 percent, to close unofficially at 1,787.40.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)