NEW YORK - Stocks ended a quiet day mostly higher yesterday as traders bought commodities and technology stocks.
The rise in commodities reflects hopes that economic activity will improve and boost the appetite for basic materials. A falling dollar also helped lift commodity prices, and oil settled above $70 a barrel for the first time this year.
Technology stocks rose as an improved profit forecast from chip maker Texas Instruments Inc. raised hopes that demand could also increase for electronics. Intel Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. have also issued optimistic comments recently, bolstering the case for technology shares.
Analysts said the third consecutive day of modest moves in the market was a welcome sign after a 39.3 percent surge in the Standard & Poor's 500 index from 12-year lows three months ago.
Even if those gains continue to hold up, many market watchers doubt that the market will continue to rise with anything like the conviction it showed this spring.
"The next three months are just going to be a long, hot flat summer. I don't see a catalyst," said Scott Armiger, portfolio manager at Christiana Bank & Trust in Greenville, Del.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.43, or less than 0.1 percent, to 8,763.06. The broader S&P 500 index rose 3.29, or 0.4 percent, to 942.43, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 17.73, or 1 percent, to 1,860.13.
Robust demand at a government auction of three-year notes reassured investors who have worried in recent weeks that rising interest rates would choke off a recovery by making it more expensive for consumers to get loans.
Financial shares were mixed after the Treasury Department said it would allow 10 large banks repay $68 billion in federal bailout money. The companies are among the 19 given money from a rescue fund created in October at the height of the financial crisis.
Among banks repaying loans, American Express Co. rose $1.28, or 5 percent, to $26.93, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. slipped 13 cents to $35.26.
Texas Instruments rose $1.25, or 6.3 percent, to $21.02.
U.S. Steel Corp. rose $2.76, or 7.9 percent, to $37.82. Schlumberger Ltd., an oil field services company, rose $1.52, or 2.7 percent, to $58.85.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 3.14, or 0.6 percent, to 527.93.