Spanish benchmark 10-year yields ticked down 5 basis points but were still near the unsustainable 7 per cent level, underscoring the cautious tone in a market that has been previously disappointed by lack of coordination among euro zone officials.
Investors are also betting a larger-than-expected fall in German industrial orders in June will underscore the importance of quick action from the ECB.
The softening data "is going to force the ECB to take action and is probably going to mean more Fed stimulus," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
Despite worries over European and U.S. economies, the S&P 500 index is up more than 11 per cent so far this year. Yield-hungry investors have kept buying stocks as U.S. and German government bond prices soar and yields hit historic lows.
Even as Dallas Federal Reserve president Richard Fisher told Reuters on Monday new steps by the Fed to stimulate the economy so close to a presidential election would be a mistake, Boston Fed president Eric Rosengren said in a New York Times interview the Fed should expand its holdings of mortgage bonds and Treasury securities until it is satisfied with the health of the economy.
"Feds are outlining a plan that they are leaning towards more stimulus," said Rockwell's Cardillo. "When you have Fed members openly say it, it is a good, educated guess that that is the road map they are laying out."
Equity markets have rallied since Friday on hopes the ECB will start buying Italian and Spanish debt in an effort to stabilize the bloc's credit crisis and protect the euro, even as no details on the bank's course of action have been made public.
A group of investors rescued Knight Capital Group in a $400 million deal that kept the market maker in business, all but wiping out existing shareholders. Knight shares were up 5.2 per cent at $3.23, down 73 per cent year-to-date.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 67.70 points, or 0.52 per cent, to 13,185.21. The S&P 500 Index gained 8.60 points, or 0.62 per cent, to 1,402.83. The Nasdaq Composite added 19.51 points, or 0.65 per cent, to 3,009.42.
European stock markets rose 0.4 per cent despite pressure from bank stocks. Standard Chartered tumbled as much as 25.7 per cent in London after New York's top bank regulator threatened to remove the British lender's state banking license for allegedly hiding billions of dollars worth of transactions linked to Iran.
Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson scrapped further studies of an anticipated experimental drug for Alzheimer's disease after it failed in a second trial. U.S.-traded shares of their partner Elan Corp dropped 10.2 per cent to $10.10. Pfizer shares fell 1.5 per cent to $23.29 and J&J edged 0.4 per cent lower to $68.57.
Copyright @ Thomson Reuters 2012