U.S. stocks rose in a slow session on Tuesday as Apple Inc and Verizon Communications Inc climbed, while data showing more stabilization in the economy helped offset profit-taking in the financial sector.
Apple's stock hit an all-time high of $237.48, after the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was developing a new iPhone to work on Verizon Communications Inc's
Shares of Verizon, a Dow component, advanced 3 percent to $31.37.
Investors also snapped up shares of consumer-oriented companies following a stronger-than-expected report on consumer confidence. Macy's Inc
But with the S&P 500 <.SPX> now up nearly 74 percent from the March 2009 bottom and on track for a fourth straight quarterly gain, other investors chose to lock in profits, limiting a broader advance.
Stocks are just trickling higher, gains are selective, it's a short week and being the end of the quarter, people have locked in a lot of their positions, said Cleveland Rueckert, market analyst at Birinyi Associates Inc in Stamford, Connecticut.
The market is a little overbought. We are not really looking for big gains. Obviously, the jobs number of Friday is going to be critical. So it's not surprising to see people back off, reassess new positions for the next quarter.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> climbed 11.03 points, or 0.10 percent, to 10,906.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 0.35 of a point, or 0.03 percent, to 1,173.57. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 5.97 points, or 0.25 percent, to 2,410.33.
Trading volumes were light, with Passover and the coming Easter holiday taking participants away from the market, traders said.
But Friday's release of the government's all-important non-farm payrolls report for March is expected to give a fresh catalyst for the market to brush up against 18-month highs. The expectation is that the labor market had a significant turnaround last month, according to strategists.
March non-farm payrolls are set for release Friday morning even though the stock market will be shut for the Good Friday holiday.
Giving the market a lift was Apple, whose move to develop a new iPhone buoyed telecom and chipmaker shares. Apple's stock was up 1.5 percent at $235.97 on Nasdaq. Earlier, the stock hit an all-time high of $237.48.
Financials kept the S&P 500 under pressure, with Bank of America
Worries about Greece's funding needs lingered a day after an auction of 7-year Greek bonds drew weaker demand than hoped for by some.
On the economic front, U.S. consumer confidence rebounded in March, as optimism about the labor market increased slightly, the Conference Board said. Another report showed that January home prices rose for the eight straight month.
(Reporting by Ellis Mnyandu; Editing by Jan Paschal)