NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are rising Monday in a continuation of their see-saw pattern of recent days. Chemical and mining companies are making the largest gains and energy companies are climbing with the price of oil.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 76 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,652 as of 1:35 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,192. The Nasdaq composite added 36 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,269.
Despite mixed reports on the health of the economy and a decline in corporate earnings, investors took a more relaxed view on risks. They sold traditionally safe investments including utility stocks and government bonds. In afternoon trading all three indexes were on track to close at record highs.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose $1.07, or 2.4 percent, to $45.56 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added $1.12, or 2.4 percent, to $48.09 a barrel in London. After a steep slide for most of June and July, the price of U.S. crude gained 6.4 percent last week.
Drilling rig operator Transocean added 61 cents, or 6.1 percent, to $10.51. National Oilwell Varco picked up $1.31, or 3.9 percent, to $35.12 and ConocoPhillips rose 77 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $42.14.
MATERIAL WORLD: Chemicals company LyondellBasell Industries rose $2.34, or 3.1 percent, to $77.67 and mining and energy company Freeport-McMoRan climbed 39 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $12.21. Aluminum producer Alcoa gained 40 cents, or 4 percent, to $10.58.
HOME SWEET HOME: Real estate investment trust Mid-America Apartment Communities will buy competitor Post Properties for about $3.9 billion in stock. Both companies own large numbers of rental properties, and demand for rentals has boomed in recent years because many people are being priced out of the housing market.
The deal values Post Properties at about $72.53 a share based on Friday's closing prices. The stock rose $5.68, or 9.1 percent, to $67.90 and Mid-America stock lost $5.23, or 5.1 percent, to $96.92.
RETAIL RESULTS: Second-quarter earnings are nearly all in the books, with this week's releases from retailers Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Target among the last to appear. Late last week department stores Macy's, Nordstrom and Kohl's posted their latest results, which investors welcomed for the companies' performance and for the way they're trying to adjust to ever-growing online competition.
MONEY FLOW: Water and wastewater treatment company Xylem announced a $1.7 billion deal for Sensus, a company that provides smart meters, network technology, and analytics used by water, electric and gas industries. Xylem stock advanced $1.89, or 3.9 percent, to $50.34.
HOME BUILDERS FEELING GOOD: A survey showed that U.S. homebuilders are feeling more optimistic about the market as prices and sales of new homes grow. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose from last month.
In June new home sales grew by the fastest pace in eight years, aided by continuing job growth and low mortgage rates. On Monday, Toll Brothers gained 76 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $28.73 and Lennar added 82 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $47.57.
WEAK START: Phone companies and utilities lagged the market. Southern Co. dipped 47 cents to $51.88 and AT&T lost 24 cents to $43.04.
CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.54 percent from 1.51 percent. The dollar fell to 101.17 yen from 101.27 yen and the euro rose to $1.1185 from $1.1164.
JAPAN STAGNATES: Japan's economy grew at a lower-than-forecast 0.2 percent pace in the April-June quarter, as private demand and exports remained weak. That could push the Bank of Japan to take additional steps to stimulate the national economy. The bank approved a new stimulus package earlier this month, but that wasn't enough to please investors.
OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX was up 0.2 percent and the CAC 40 of France dipped less than 0.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 edged 0.3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.7 percent.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay