Investors haven't subscribed to the 'sell in May and go away' mantra so far. Stocks shook off the dour end to April and sprang higher on the first trading day of the new month, thanks to a surge in consumer stocks.
The S&P 500 was up 0.82%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.66%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.88%.
Apollo Education Group (APOL led the consumer sector higher, climbing 13% after private-equity firm Apollo Global Management (APO - Get Report) raised its takeover bid to $10.50 a share from $10. The deal is now valued at $1.14 billion. The University of Phoenix's online college company delayed a shareholder vote on the deal last week after major stakeholders said the offer was too low.
Sysco (SYY - Get Report) added 5.5% after topping analysts' earnings estimates in its third quarter thanks to lower food costs. The business-to-business food services company earned an adjusted 46 cents a share, besting expectations by 4 cents. Sales of $12 billion came in above forecasts of $11.9 billion.
Other non-cylical consumer stocks such as Anheuser-Busch (BUD , Unilever (UN - Get Report) , Kraft Heinz (KHC - Get Report) , and Mondelez (MDLZ - Get Report) were higher, while discretionary spending names such as Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) , Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) , Home Depot (HD - Get Report) , and Disney (DIS - Get Report) jumped. The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP - Get Report) added 1.1%, while the Consumer Discretionary SPDR ETF (XLY - Get Report) climbed 1.4%.
Crude oil prices were in retreat after an increase in Middle Eastern output overshadowed declining production in the U.S. Crude production from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries climbed to 32.6 million barrels in April. Russia, the biggest exporter outside OPEC, also increased monthly crude for seaborne exports by more than 7% in April. West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed 2.5% lower at $44.78 a barrel, its lowest level since April 26.
"The petroleum markets have tipped to the downside in light May Day holiday trade on concern that OPEC production is on the rise, with Iranian output climbing to 3.4-3.5 [million barrels per day] in April, and Iraqi exports said to be running at a near-record level," Timothy Evans, energy futures analyst at Citi, wrote in a note.
Energy stocks were the worst performers on markets Monday. Major oilers Statoil (STO , PetroChina (PTR - Get Report) , and ConocoPhillips (COP - Get Report) were all lower, while the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE - Get Report) slipped 0.13%.
Manufacturing growth in April fell to 50.8, according to the ISM Manufacturing Index. Economists expected the measure to fall at a slower pace to 51.5 after a reading of 51.8 in March. Both production and new orders softened after a strong showing in March. The employment index remained in negative territory, indicating further manufacturing job losses on the horizon.
"The prospect of a renewed wobble in U.S. manufacturing comes at a difficult time for the wider economy," said David Tulk, head of global macro strategy at TD Securities. "First-quarter growth was quite subdued and all eyes are focused on the ability of activity to improve heading into the second quarter. This release, among others, challenges this narrative and points to continued sluggishness in the U.S. economy."
Construction spending in the U.S. rose just 0.3% in March, the strongest level since October 2007, but slower than expected 0.5% growth. Spending rose 1% in February. Private construction, particularly in the residential space, helped to boost overall spending in the final month of the first quarter.
Halliburton (HAL - Get Report) and Baker Hughes (BHI dominated business headlines on Monday after calling off their $28 billion merger amid intense scrutiny from antitrust regulators. The Department of Justice confirmed the news, applauding the abandonment of the deal as "the only result that could adequately protect American consumers." The transaction would have combined the second- and third-largest oilfield services firms in the world.
Baker Hughes announced plans to cut $500 million in costs and repurchase $1.5 billion of shares and $1 billion in debt. The oilfield services company plans to fund its buyback program with the $3.5 billion breakup fee it receives from Halliburton.
Japanese stocks slid more than 3% overnight as the Bank of Japan's inaction on fresh stimulus continued to disappoint investors. The central bank had widely been expected to increase its asset-purchase program. Japanese markets were closed Friday for a national holiday and had not yet had the chance to fully digest the news. The yen hit an 18-month high against the U.S. dollar.