Wall Street moved higher with financial shares as investors edged back to safer bets from more speculative ones on energy, metals and the materials sector.

In 2.38pm New York trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.57 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.63 per cent. In 2.23pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.68 per cent.

The Dow rose, spurred by gains in shares of Goldman Sachs and those of Home Depot, up 1.7 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively.

"It's a little bit of a reversal from the last couple of weeks where you had energy, gold, materials leading the market," Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago, told Reuters. "Now we're back to the safer plays."


The latest US economic data showed that the Institute for Supply Management's index of manufacturing activity fell to 50.8 in April, down from 51.8 in March. Even so, it was above 50, meaning expansion, for the second month in a row.

"Manufacturing is moving forward but we have the tortoise, not the hare, in this race," Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania, told Reuters.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed construction spending rose 0.3 per cent in March to the highest level in more than eight years, following a 1 per cent increase in February.

As expectations for US interest increases have diminished in recent weeks, investors are focused on Friday's jobs report. The Labor Department report is expected to show payrolls climbed by about 200,000 last month after a 215,000 increase in March, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Shares of Baker Hughes fell, trading 2.4 per cent lower as of 2.58pm in New York, after it and Halliburton abandoned a deal to merge. Halliburton shares rose 2.1 per cent.

"The companies' decision to abandon this transaction-which would have left many oilfield service markets in the hands of a duopoly-is a victory for the US economy and for all Americans," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement on Sunday, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, shares of Apollo Education soared, last 10.5 per cent higher, after a group of investors increased their takeover offer to US$1.14 billion.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with a 0.1 per cent fall from the previous close, as bank and energy stocks slid. However, France's CAC 40 index rose 0.3 per cent, while Germany's DAX index climbed 0.8 per cent. UK markets were closed for a holiday.

Shares of Allianz rallied after the insurer posted first-quarter results that surpassed analysts' expectations.