NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It was one of those treading-water kind of days as benchmark indices held at record highs with little fresh news to digest and with volume low in a holiday-shortened week. Investors continued to celebrate stimulus measures announced by China's central bank and the European Central Bank late last week, while seasonal cheer ahead of Thanksgiving on Thursday provided buoyancy to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
"The seasonality has a bullish tilt," Raymond James' chief investment strategist Jeffrey D. Saut wrote in a note. "I have learned the hard way that it is difficult to sell stocks off during the ebullient period between Thanksgiving and Christmas ... Thanksgiving week also has a bullish bias with a gain for the week of +0.64% two-thirds of the time."
However, Wall Street's optimism could be tested come Tuesday morning upon the release of third-quarter real GDP.
"There was a weaker tenor to some of the data in September so we're a bit on the low-end of consensus," said Jennifer Vail, head of fixed income at U.S. Bank, in a call. The firm holds a 3.2% forecast for the quarter. Bloomberg economist surveys show a range of 3% to 3.8% with a consensus of 3.3%.
"There's nothing that's going to hit it out of the ballpark. It's going to continue to be this slow upward momentum because there's so many headwinds on the domestic economy," added Vail. "It's going to be a two-steps-forward, one-step-back scenario for an extended period of time."
It was a quiet day for earnings on Monday with the season expecting one of its last bursts of action for the quarter on Tuesday. Companies scheduled to report include Tiffany & Co. (TIF) , Campbell Soup (CPB) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) . So far, 488 of S&P 500 companies have reported with 73% having beat forecasts.
By market close Monday, the S&P 500 peaked at a fresh record of 2,069.44, up 0.29% for the day. The Nasdaq hit all-time highs, climbing 0.89%.
"The higher it goes, the more records it breaks," said MKM Partners' chief market technician Jonathan Krinsky of the sky-high November rallies in a report. "Many participants have been waiting and wanting a pullback to add more exposure, but it has simply not come. We ourselves have been expecting some consolidation for the last 100 SPX points, and have thus far been incorrect."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average also nabbed a record high, up 0.04%, though the telecom sector clipped any major advances. Verizon (VZ) slid 1.4% after receiving a downgrade from Citigroup's Michael Rolling on concerns the "wireless industry is experiencing a great disconnect between the growth in data traffic and the growth in revenue." Peer AT&T (T) followed suit, dropping 1.6%.
United Technologies (UTX) was also dragging on the Dow, down 1.4% after CEO Louis Chenevert announced his retirement, effective immediately. Chief Financial Officer Gregory Hayes will assume the position.
A flurry of deal talk pushed the financial services and biopharmaceutical sectors higher. Small-cap Prosensa Holding (RNA) was the best performer on the Nasdaq after BioMarin Pharmaceuticals (BMRN) said it would buy the drug developer for $840 million. Shares exploded 62.6%.
NYSE-listed property insurance company Platinum Underwriters (PTP) rocketed 21% higher after RenaissanceRe Holdings (RNR) agreed to buy the company for about $1.9 billion. 3D Systems (DDD) added 6.7% after agreeing to buy micro-cap Cimatron (CIMT) for $97 million. Shares of software company Cimatron surged 42.7%.
--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.