Stocks up on oil and commodity prices

Investors are riding higher energy prices into the close of a strong quarter.

Energy, industrial and materials stocks led the market higher in light trading volume Monday as investors looked to put money into areas that would benefit from an improving economy.

Crude oil rose $2.01 to $71.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after Nigerian militants damaged and partly shut down an offshore oil platform belonging to Royal Dutch Shell.

Stocks rose sharply after seesawing in the early going. After running up the market more than 30% in three months on a litany of "less bad" economic data, investors have become more cautious about the pace of the economy's recovery in recent weeks, looking for more concrete signs of growth.

With the quarter's end on Tuesday some money managers could be buying stocks bolster their returns for the quarter. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is up 15.2% since the start of the April-June quarter.

There is little by way of economic or corporate news scheduled for Monday. However, this week, which is shortened by the Independence Day holiday on Friday, brings key data that will give investors a better sense of where the economy is headed.

Of particular importance is the government's monthly employment report, due Thursday. Though considered a lagging indicator of the country's economic health, the unemployment rate is still one of the most closely watched gauges of the economy. The labor market is intricately tied to many facets of the economy, including consumer spending.

Investors will also get readings on consumer confidence and manufacturing this week.

Last week, the major indexes finished mixed. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.2%; the Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 0.3%; and the Nasdaq composite index rose 0.6%.

Bond prices were slightly higher early Monday afternoon. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, slipped to 3.50% from 3.53% late Friday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 1.0%. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.2%, Germany's DAX index advanced 2.2%, and France's CAC-40 rose 2%.

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