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Stocks Move Up as Markets Focus on Corporate Earnings Blitz

Stocks gained on Monday after the S&P 500's largest weekly advance since July, as investors focused on a heavy day of quarterly earnings reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed unofficially 40 points higher, the S&P 500 added 7 points and the Nasdaq rose 26 points.

"We're modestly higher because the worst-case scenario didn't happen over the weekend," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, referring to geopolitical tensions involving Russia and Ukraine.

"And, on balance, earnings have been better than expectations," Hogan added.

"Investors were braced for poor results, and at least so far, the numbers have been better than feared. We'll have a little more information to act on after the close and into the morning as we get into company-specific results," said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors.

Halliburton shares gained 3 percent after the oilfield services company reported better-than-expected results and Facebook rose 4.9 percent after Goldman Sachs reiterated its "buy" recommendation.

Merger talks between the world's two largest gold miners, Canada's Barrick Gold and Denver-based Newmont Mining fell through in recent days, according to the Wall Street Journal. But shares of Newmont rallied in early New York trading after Bloomberg News cited people with knowledge of the matter in reporting deal talks between the gold producers could be rekindled.

The dollar gained against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note used in figuring mortgage rates and other consumer loans fell a basis point to 2.716 percent.

"Interest rates are tough to forecast; there is a common perception they will ultimately climb because they feel so unnaturally low, but markets have a way of surprising people, so we'll see," said Federated's Creatura.

The price of crude added 7 cents, to end at $104.37 a barrel; gold futures shed $5.40, to settled at $1,288.50 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.