By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Tuesday, pushing the S&P 500 to yet another record high, after weaker-than-expected job creation last month reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will hold the course on its economic stimulus into next year.
U.S. employers added 148,000 workers last month, well below the 180,000 economists had expected. The data was seen as supporting the Fed's decision to maintain its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, which has been a major factor in the S&P 500's 2013 rally of 23 percent.
Many economists now think the Fed will refrain from scaling back its easy money policy, which has kept borrowing costs low, until next year. The central bank surprised market participants in September when it held off on any plans to trim its stimulus.
"Another soft report on the employment numbers just continues to lead us to believe the Fed will be with us at the holiday table this year with their full $85 billion and ringing in the New Year probably at that rate as well, which the markets like," said Darrell Cronk, regional chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank in New York.
But gains were limited on the Nasdaq after some of the year's biggest winners, including Netflix Inc (NFLX), reversed course to move lower.
"This is a horrible one-day reversal, taking out yesterday's action. We saw both higher highs and lower lows today, which is proof the stock is exhausted," said Frank Gretz, market analyst and technician for brokerage Shields & Co in New York.
Netflix shares fell 9 percent to $323.12, giving back gains that followed the release of the company's earnings report on Monday. With more than 17 million shares traded, volume was nearly eight times the average over the last 50 days.
Apple (AAPL) edged down 0.3 percent to $519.87, though losses ebbed after the company unveiled a new line of iPads.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 75.46 points or 0.49 percent, to 15,467.66, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) gained 10.01 points or 0.57 percent, to 1,754.67 and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) added 9.517 points or 0.24 percent, to 3,929.566.
The gains marked the fourth straight record close for the benchmark S&P index.
Consumer staples (.SPLRCS), up 1.4 percent, was among the best performing S&P sectors, boosted by a 4.2 gain in Kimberly-Clark Corp (KMB) to $102.97 after the maker of Kleenex tissues posted bigger-than-anticipated quarterly profit.
Transocean (RIG) shares rose 6 percent to $49.35 after S&P Dow Jones Indices announced the drilling services company will replace Dell (DELL) on the S&P 500 index after the close of trading next Monday.
Shares of cloud software maker VMware Inc (VMW) rose 2.8 percent to $85 a day after it reported a higher-than-expected profit.
According to Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning, of the 128 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 63.3 percent have topped analysts' expectations, roughly in line with the beat rate since 1994 but below the 66 percent rate over the past four quarters.
On a revenue basis, 52.3 percent of companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results have beaten Wall Street expectations, short of the 61 percent beat rate since 2002 but slightly above the 49 percent rate over the past four quarters.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,210 to 805, while on the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners 1,397 to 1,148.
(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Nick Zieminski)