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Stocks edge up: S&P 500 closes in on eighth month of gains

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. stock indexes edged higher on Tuesday following stronger-than-expected earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg’s cereal, Oreo cookies and others. Markets around the world were mostly steady, while bond yields were stable and commodity prices dipped modestly.

The S&P 500 is on pace to close October with its seventh straight month of gains, its longest such streak in more than four years.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,577, as of 3:15 p.m. Eastern time. It’s been on a gentle upward slope for most of this year, and its modest decline of 0.3 percent on Monday followed seven straight weeks of gains.

Trader Tommy Kalikas works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg’s cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 50 points, or 0.2 percent, to 23,398, and the Nasdaq composite rose 32 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,731.

FOOD BINGE: Several food companies were among the market’s top performers after reporting stronger-than-expected earnings.

Kellogg jumped $3.48, or 5.9 percent, to $62.35. Revenue from North America was better than some analysts expected, and the company made more in operating profit from each $1 of sales.

Mondelez International gained $2.37, or 6 percent, to $41.67 after it reported revenue gains in Latin America, Europe and North America.

EARNINGS PARADE: More than half the companies in the S&P 500 have already reported their results, and most have come in above Wall Street’s expectations. That’s helped to justify the big gains that stock prices have made, as stocks tend to track corporate profits over the long term.

“It’s been a fantastic earnings season,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. “People talk about taxes, low interest rates and all these other things, but what really drives the market is earnings.”

GROWING: Fertilizer maker Mosaic jumped to the largest gain in the S&P 500, up $1.68, or 8.1 percent, to $22.53. Its earnings for the latest quarter were well above analysts’ expectations, but it also cut its dividend.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: Rockwell Automation surged after it received a buyout bid worth $215 per share in cash and stock. The company said it rejected the unsolicited bid from Emerson Electric on Oct. 10.

Rockwell Automation jumped $14.32, or 7.7 percent, to $201.33. Emerson Electric fell $2.80, or 4.2 percent, to $64.54.

THREADBARE: Under Armour recorded the largest loss in the S&P 500 after it said demand for its sporting gear in North America weakened last quarter. It also lowered its forecast for earnings this year for the second time in three months. Its Class A shares fell $3.51, or 21.4 percent, to $12.90.

FEELING GOOD: Confidence among U.S. consumers hit its highest level last month in nearly 17 years, a report on Tuesday showed. It’s the latest piece of encouraging evidence that the economy continues to improve. The increased strength is raising expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates from the current record low.

CENTRAL BANK WATCH: The Bank of Japan decided on Tuesday to keep interest rates at ultra-low levels, though it cut its outlook for inflation. It’s just one of several major central banks meeting this week on interest rates.

The Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates on Thursday, which would be the first increase in in a decade.

The Federal Reserve will wrap up a two-day meeting on Wednesday, though most economists expect it to wait until its December gathering to raise rates for the third time this year.

More attention is on President Donald Trump’s choice for the next Fed chair. He’s expected to make the announcement on Thursday, and the leading candidate appears to be Jerome “Jay” Powell, who is already a member of the Fed’s board.

BUSY WEEK AHEAD: Besides the central-bank decisions on interest rates and the expected announcement of the next Fed chair, investors are also looking for an update on progress toward Washington’s attempts to cut income-tax rates.

A cut would help boost profits for companies, and stocks of smaller companies in particular have been rising and falling in sync with expectations for tax cuts.

At the end of the week, the government will unveil the month’s most anticipated economic data, its jobs report. Economists expect to see continued strength in hiring.

YIELDS: Bond yields held steady as prices for Treasurys were close to flat. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.37 percent, and the two-year yield ticked up to 1.59 percent from 1.58 percent late Monday. The 30-year Treasury slipped to 2.87 percent from 2.88 percent.

STOCKS ABROAD: The French CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent, and the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index held steady, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.3 percent and South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.9 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar from inched up to 113.67 Japanese yen from 113.18 yen late Monday. The euro ticked up to $1.1654 from $1.1637, and the British pound rose to $1.3287 from $1.3199.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 23 cents to settle at $54.38 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 47 cents to $61.37 per barrel.

Natural gas fell 7 cents to $2.90 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil was close to flat at $1.88 per gallon and wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.78 per gallon.

Gold slipped $7.20 to $1,270.50 per ounce, silver lost 15 cents to $16.69 per ounce and copper dipped a penny to $3.10 per pound.

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AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed to this report.

Trader Andrew Silverman works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg's cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Andrew Silverman works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg’s cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader John Doyle wears a jack-o-lantern tie and a skull pin for Halloween as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg's cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader John Doyle wears a jack-o-lantern tie and a skull pin for Halloween as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg’s cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Patrick McKeon works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg's cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Patrick McKeon works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg’s cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Richard Scardino works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg's cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Richard Scardino works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg’s cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Traders Ryan Falvey, left, and Michael Milano work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg's cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Traders Ryan Falvey, left, and Michael Milano work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg’s cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader John Santiago works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg's cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader John Santiago works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg’s cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Tapestry Inc. CEO Victor Luis, right, home to Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman brands, is applauded as he rings the New York Stock Exchange opening bell, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Tapestry Inc. CEO Victor Luis, right, home to Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman brands, is applauded as he rings the New York Stock Exchange opening bell, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg's cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg’s cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Specialist Michael Pistillo, left, and trader Timothy Nick work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg's cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Specialist Michael Pistillo, left, and trader Timothy Nick work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading on Tuesday following strong earnings reports from the makers of Kellogg’s cereals, Oreo cookies and others. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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