Stocks ease higher, S&P closes best month since February

|By:, SA News Editor

Stocks edged higher to complete a fourth straight week of gains, with the S&P 500 finishing at a new record close and posting its biggest monthly rise since February (+3.8%), as mostly upbeat U.S. economic data appeared to outweigh overseas worries.

The Russell 2000 (+0.6%) and Nasdaq Composite (+0.5%) ran ahead of the S&P (+0.3%) on the day, with techs leading the way as Avago Technologies delivered a solid quarterly report.

The final week of August was the quietest stretch for the stock market this year; the first four sessions produced the four lowest volume days of the year, averaging just 487M shares traded on the NYSE, but today's final tally of 604M was a closer to the 200-day average of 679M.

Treasurys also closed out a big monthly rally; the benchmark 10-year note was little changed in thin trade today, yielding 2.34%, but the yield ended the month with its biggest slide since January.