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Stocks up in midday trading as spending rises

Matthew Craft, AP Business Writer

Specialist Meric Greenbaum, left, works with traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Monday, April 29, 2013. A pair of encouraging economic reports helped propel the stock market up in early trading on Monday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Technology companies led the stock market higher Monday, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 index back up to the record high it reached earlier this month.

A pair of strong economic reports also encouraged investors. Wages and spending rose in the U.S. last month, and pending home sales hit their highest level in three years.

Shortly after 12 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 85 points at 14,798, a gain of 0.6 percent. Microsoft and IBM were among the Dow's best performers, rising 2 percent each.

Big tech firms have slumped this month. Concerns about weak business spending and slower overseas sales have weighed on the industry, said Marty Leclerc, the managing partner of Barrack Yard Advisors, an investment firm in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Revenue misses from IBM and other big tech companies have highlighted the industry's vulnerability to the world economy.

"The areas of the stock market that haven't done as well rely on exports," Leclerc said. "Those stocks more dependent on the domestic economy have done the best."

Tech played catch-up on Monday. Information technology stocks rose the most of the 10 industry groups in the S&P, 1.5 percent. It's the only group that remains lower over the past year.

The S&P 500 index was up 11 points to 1,593, a gain of 0.7 percent. That matches its all-time closing high reached on April 11.

The Nasdaq composite rose 32 points at 3,311, a rise of 1 percent. Apple, the biggest stock in the index, rose 3.5 percent to $431.95.

The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes reached the highest level since April 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. Back then, a tax credit for buying houses had lifted sales. Separately, the government reported that Americans' spending and income both edged up last month.

Moody's and Standard & Poor's parent company McGraw-Hill surged following news that the ratings agencies settled lawsuits dating back to the financial crisis that accused them of concealing risky investments. McGraw-Hill gained 6 percent to $54.80, while Moody's jumped 10 percent to $61.02, the biggest gain in the S&P 500.

Eaton Corp. gained 5 percent to $61.31 after reporting that its quarterly net income jumped, beating Wall Street's estimates. The results were helped by its acquisition of Cooper Industries, an electrical equipment supplier.

In the market for government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.65 percent. That's down from 1.67 percent late Friday.