Wall Street lingered near record highs as investors awaited fresh clues from American monetary policy makers including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's nominated successor, Janet Yellen.
Yellen is scheduled to give testimony during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee on November 14 at time when the most recent US GDP and jobs data are pointing to better-than-expected strength in the world's largest economy.
In afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.11 per cent. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was unchanged. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.2 per cent.
"People will be watching over the next few weeks to see if the Fed does decide to begin tapering this year," John Carey, a portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management who oversees US$200 billion in assets globally, told Bloomberg News. "If earnings continue trending higher the support will be there for better share prices."
The Dow closed at a record high on Friday. Shares in IBM, last up 1.6 per cent, and Wal-Mart, last up 1.2 per cent, were the leading gainers in the Dow, while those of Microsoft, last 0.7 per cent lower, and Coca-Cola, last 0.6 per cent weaker, were the largest decliners.
"The question is how hard do people want to push stocks ... that's the tug of war going on in equity prices," Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading, in Greenwich, Connecticut, told Reuters.
Shares of ViroPharma soared, last up 25.5 per cent to US$49.42, after Dublin-based Shire agreed to buy the company, which makes drugs to treat rare diseases, for US$4.2 billion. Shares of Shire gained 0.9 per cent in London.
"Usually it's better to be the acquired than the acquirer, but the market seems to like these deals. Shire said the deal would help earnings in the first year though, which was somewhat comforting," Mike Ingram, analyst at BGC Partners, told Reuters.
The American government bonds market was closed today because of Veterans Day. The US Treasury is scheduled to auction US$70 billion of notes and bonds in the coming days.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index added 0.3 per cent, as did the UK's FTSE 100 Index and Germany's DAX. France's CAC 40 climbed 0.7 per cent.
The euro strengthened against the greenback, rising 0.3 per cent. It also gained against the yen, last up 0.5 per cent. Investors judged the euro good value after the European Central Bank's surprise interest rate cut last week had pushed it to the lowest level in two months.
"Basically what we're telling our clients is 'don't chase the euro lower, look for a bounce to sell into'," Marc Chandler, the New York-based chief currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co, told Bloomberg News.