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US Stocks Edge Up After Strong Caterpillar Earns

The Dow and the S&P 500 are rapidly approaching their all-time closing highs, reached on Oct. 9, 2007. The Dow is about 282 points below its high of 14,164.53; the S&P 500 is 65 points shy of its record of 1,565.

Economic data may be less likely to boost the indexes because traders have become harder to impress as the data have strengthened in recent weeks, said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist with PNC Asset Management Group.

"Before, even if you came in just at expectations, that was like a victory," he said. Because of the market's recent upturn, he said, "you get less of a pop for just making the numbers."

Among companies in the S&P 500 that reported earnings Monday, Biogen Idec Inc. said its fourth-quarter net income slipped nearly 3 percent because of a tax charge and higher expenses. Still, the biotech drug maker rose $3.79, or 2.6 percent, to $149.99.

Roper Industries Inc., which makes medical and industrial equipment, said its fourth-quarter net income rose 18 percent. But the company issued mixed guidance for the current quarter and full year 2013. It fell 33 cents to $118.50.

Oil company Hess Inc. was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, adding 6.1 percent after the company said it plans to sell its U.S. terminal network, shutter its New Jersey refinery and continue shifting its focus to exploration and production. Hess also said that the hedge fund Elliott Associates plans to seek regulatory approval to buy a major stake in the company. Hess rose $3.58 to $62.48.

Several big tech companies reported their results after the market closed and saw big price swings in after-hours trading:

â¿¿ Web portal Yahoo Inc. rose 81 cents, or 4 percent, to $21.12 after saying its fourth-quarter earnings topped analyst estimates as an upturn in its international investments helped end a three-year revenue slump.

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