* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P 500 up 0.2 pct, Nasdaq up 0.6 pct
* Transocean shares up after results, Time Warner off on
* Apple's stock gains 1.4 pct and bolsters the Nasdaq
By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian
NEW YORK, Nov 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced modestly on
Monday in light trading in one of the year's quietest sessions
on the day before the U.S. presidential election.
Whatever the outcome of the race between incumbent President
Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the
election's resolution will finally end the uncertainty that has
kept the market stagnant for the past few weeks.
"No one's going to make big bets today," said Perry Piazza,
director of investment strategy at Contango Capital Advisors in
Just 5.16 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock
Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT on Monday, below this
year's average daily volume of 6.5 billion.
"[The market] has been directionless over the last few weeks
because of what fiscal and tax policy looks like next year. You
could argue that just having the uncertainty behind us could
lead to a bit of a relief rally," Piazza said.
The Nasdaq was the strongest of the three major U.S. stock
indexes, helped by a rally in Apple Inc, the most
valuable publicly traded U.S. company. Apple's stock rose 1.4
percent to close at $584.62. The stock has fallen 17 percent
from its closing high of $705.07 on Sept. 21.
Once the election is over, the market will turn to the
"fiscal cliff," the $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending
cuts that could hit the economy hard in 2013 unless Congress
comes to an agreement that will soften the blow.
"I guess, academically, you could convince yourself a
president doesn't generally doesn't have that much influence
over the economy near-term, but the fact remains, they could
impact the market," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of
Harris Private Bank in Chicago.
A budget crisis in the United States could hamper growth
around the world. On Sunday, economic leaders pressed the United
States to avert the fiscal cliff in the interest of avoiding a
large-scale economic slowdown
Another drag on trading volume was the residual impact of
Hurricane Sandy, which has left about 30,000 to 40,000 Americans
homeless. The superstorm wreaked havoc on infrastructure and
housing in the Northeast.
"I think Sandy is still affecting volume a little bit,"
Piazza said. "Folks we deal with in New York seem to be back at
work now, but they were out most of the week last week, and
still have other things on their minds."
The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 19.28
points, or 0.15 percent, to end at 13,112.44. The Standard &
Poor's 500 Index rose 3.06 points, or 0.22 percent, to
1,417.26. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 17.53
points, or 0.59 percent, to close at 2,999.66.
The CBOE Volatility Index or VIX, Wall Street's
favorite barometer of investor anxiety, rose 4.72 percent - a
relatively big move compared with the S&P 500 - to end Monday's
session at 18.42.
"It's just a few people taking positions ahead of the
election, to protect themselves against a pullback," said Randy
Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at
Charles Schwab. "I think this will go on tomorrow as well,"
adding that he believes the market will be flat while the VIX is
likely to show "a bigger move, as it's just the nature of
hedging ahead of big news like the election."
The PHLX semiconductor index rose 1.6 percent and
bolstered the Nasdaq.
An index of housing-related shares gained 1.8
In the energy sector, the S&P energy index gained
0.7 percent following a gain in crude oil futures prices and
third-quarter earnings from two major energy companies.
Transocean Ltd , which operates the world's
largest offshore oil drilling fleet, gained 5.6 percent to
$48.64, a day after the company reported a higher-than-expected
adjusted profit for the third quarter.
Shares of Southern Co, the second-largest U.S. power
company, fell 2.5 percent to $44.62 after Southern posted
third-quarter earnings. [ I D:nL3E8M54N6]
The S&P utilities index, down 1.66 percent, was the
worst performing of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors a week after
superstorm Sandy hit New York City and surrounding areas.
Shares of Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S.
cable operator, lost 6.4 percent to $91.93 after the company
reported a quarterly profit that missed estimates as it lost
more video subscribers than expected.
BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc surged 31.2 percent to
$49.07 after the company said a late-stage trial of its
experimental drug for a rare genetic disorder could improve
patients' walking ability when the medicine is administered
weekly. The rally in BioMarin's stock helped drive the Nasdaq
biotech index up 1.7 percent.
Despite the light volume on Monday, the market's breadth was
positive. Advancers slightly outnumbered decliners on the New
York Stock Exchange by a ratio of 15 to 14. On the Nasdaq, about
three stocks rose for every two that fell.