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Stocks Close Mixed as Bernanke's Speech Weighs

The strong read was overriding the Census Bureau's report that construction spending fell 0.6% in August. Economists had expected construction spending to rise 0.4%.

Now that the world's central banks have committed to significant bond-buying programs, investor attention is turning to third-quarter reporting season, which kicks off on Oct. 9. The current expectation is for a year-over-year decline of 2.1% in earnings for the S&P 500, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

"It will be a close call on whether [third-quarter] earnings remain positive for a 13th consecutive quarter," said Douglas Cote, chief market strategist with ING Investment Management.

"The odds are stacked against it owing to a pronounced slowdown in manufacturing driven by a China hard landing," said Cote. "The coordinated global monetary easing from the Fed, ECB, Japan and now China may have shifted growth forward enough to stem the tide on earnings."

The FTSE 100 in London closed up 1.37% and the DAX in Germany finished up 1.53% after the final print on a September PMI report for the eurozone manufacturing sector was revised to 46.1 versus the prior estimate of 46.

The European markets were also relieved over an as-expected capital shortfall shown Friday in Spain's bank stress tests that was comfortably within the tolerance of the European Financial Stability Facility.

China's September manufacturing purchasing managers' index came in with a read of 49.8 versus 49.2 in August.

In Japan, a survey pointed to deteriorating confidence among large manufacturers.

The Nikkei Average in Japan finished down 0.83% on Monday. Hong Kong's market was closed for a public holiday.

November crude oil futures settled up 29 cents to $92.85 a barrel. December gold futures popped $9.40 to settle at $1,783.30 an ounce.

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