Stocks close at record highs in pre-Christmas surge

Stocks climbed on Monday, with the Dow industrials and S&P 500 again closing at records, as Apple and Facebook led a rally in the technology sector and after data showed consumer sentiment at a five-month high and spending up in November.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 73 points, with Cisco Systems pacing gains that included 21 of its 30 components.

Up 28 percent for the year, the S&P 500 advanced 9 points, with technology and telecommunications the best performing of its 10 sectors and consumer staples and utilities the laggards.

"The popular averages continue their usual Christmas rally with only one week to go in what has been the best year for stocks since the go-go '90s," said Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners.

The Nasdaq rose 44 points, just over 1 percent, hitting a 13-year high.

"The combination of the Federal Reserve's 'taper-lite,' a two-year budget deal, and better-than-expected U.S. economic data could support the seasonal pattern of abnormally strong market returns during the holidays," noted Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management Group.

Facebook jumped nearly 5 percent as the social-networking site's first day of trading as one of the S&P 500 companies. Shares of Apple gained 3.8 percent after it reached a deal to sell its iPhones through China Mobile, the biggest phone company on the globe.

"China Mobile has 750 million customers and represents an ideal platform for the American technology provider to enter the region's markets," Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, wrote in emailed research.

The Commerce Department earlier reported U.S. consumer spending tallied its biggest increase in five months in November, rising 0.5 percent after advancing by a revised 0.4 percent in October.

Equities held their gains after the final reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index on consumer sentiment came in at 82.5, unchanged from November.

"It's great to see an improvement and a hoped for translation into consumer spending but so far holiday retail spending is expected to be just slightly above 2012 at 3.9 percent growth versus 3.5 percent," emailed Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, citing the National Retail Federation's forecast.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude-oil futures for February delivery lost 41 cents to $98.91 a barrel, and gold futures for February delivery declined $6.70 to settle at $1,197.00 an ounce, putting it on course for its biggest yearly loss in 32 years.

The dollar lost ground 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 rose 4 basis points to 2.93 percent.

On Friday, equities climbed, lifting the Dow and S&P 500 to record closes, after economic reports had the U.S. economy growing faster-than-projected in the third quarter, bolstering optimism about the economic outlook.