NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It was a relatively calm day on Wall Street as markets drifted higher earlier in the day and maintained those gains to the close of trading. Wall Street was pausing in wait-and-see mode ahead of Friday's unemployment report.
The S&P 500 was up 0.29% to 2,114, only points from its closing high of 2,117.69 reached on April 24. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.26%, and the Nasdaq climbed 0.23%.
"The focus this week is really on Friday's jobs report. Expectations are for a snapback in the second quarter," Mark Luschini, chief investment officer at Janney Montgomery Scott, told CNBC.
Nonfarm payrolls for April will be released before the bell on Friday. Economists expect 225,000 jobs to have been added over the month, far better than 126,000 added in March.
Crude oil slipped after China's factory activity fell at a faster pace than expected, prompting fears of weakened demand for oil in the world's second-largest economy. The HSBC final Purchasing Managers' Index fell at its fastest pace in a year, down to 48.9 in April from 49.6 in March. West Texas Intermediate crude closed down 0.4% to $58.93 a barrel.
Oil-fracking companies including PioneerNatural Resources (PXD) - Get Report, Concho Resources (CXO) - Get Report, and Whiting Petroleum (WLL) - Get Report slid after activist investor David Einhorn, founder of Greenlight Capital, criticized the fracking industry.
"We object to oil fracking because the investment can contaminate returns," he said at the 20th annual Ira Sohn Investment Conference on Monday.
New orders for manufactured goods increased 2.1% in March following a 0.1% decrease a month earlier, according to the Commerce Department. The increase was its biggest since July. Economists had expected a 2% increase.
AbbVie (ABBV) - Get Report spiked 0.6% after Larry Robbin, CEO of Glenview Capital Management, said the biotech company was trading relatively cheaply and that its pipeline is "under-appreciated." Robinson was speaking at the investment conference.
The utilities sector was the best performer on the S&P 500. Exelon (EXC) - Get Report, Southern (SO) - Get Report, Duke Energy (DUK) - Get Report and Dominion Resources (D) - Get Report were all higher, while the Utilities SPDR ETF (XLU) - Get Report added 0.7%.
McDonald's (MCD) - Get Report shares fell after the fast food chain unveiled its turnaround strategy. The company said it will focus on operational charges but failed to address its menu, one reason consumers are turning to other fast food options such as Chipotle (CMG) - Get Report.
Charter Communications (CHTR) - Get Report is in talks with Time Warner Cable (TWC) after the latter's planned merger with Comcast fell through, according to TheWall Street Journal. Charter is reportedly pursuing a less hostile approach than its failed takeover last year.
Diamond Offshore (DO) - Get Report was 1.1% lower despite beating expectations on its top- and bottom-lines. The company reported earnings of 50 cents a share, 7 cents higher than forecast. Revenue slid 12.6% to $620 million as plunging oil prices affected its drilling business.
Sysco (SYY) - Get Report slipped 1.3% after missing expectations in its third quarter. The food distributor is also preparing to fight for its merger with U.S. Foods on Tuesday. The company will face off with the Federal Trade Commission in a Washington federal court.
Cisco (CSCO) - Get Report named Chuck Robbins as its new CEO, effective July 26. Robbins was formerly senior vice president of worldwide operations and will replace John Chambers as CEO, who served 20 years at the post.