Slow but steady -- that seems to be the new mantra here on Wall Street. The Dow Industrials and the S&P 500 plowed further into record territory on Friday.
The catalyst for today's advance was the monthly jobs report, which showed the total number of people employed finally topped the 2008 peak it hit just before the Great Recession took hold.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 88 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 9, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained 25 points.
Financial stocks helped lead the advance. Goldman Sachs (GS) and American Express (AXP) both gained more than 2 percent.
Bank of America (BAC) rose 1 percent on reports that it's in talks with the Justice Department to settle another set of probes into the bank's handling of mortgages leading up to and during the financial crisis. News reports say the company could pay more than $12 billion, which is more than it earned in all of 2013. But this could allow Bank of America to finally put this long-running problem behind it. Its stock has been virtually flat over the past 6 months.
Amazon (AMZN) posted a strong gain for second straight day, rising 2 percent, on indications that it's about to enter the smartphone business.
And Sears (SHLD) gained nearly 2 percent on a Reuters report that the company's chairman has held talks with outgoing Ford (F) CEO Alan Mulally, sparking rumors that he might head the retailer's turnaround effort.
Elsewhere, Hertz (HRZ) drove into a ditch, sliding 9 percent after saying it will restate earnings from 2011 through 2013 because of accounting issues.
Diamond Foods (DMND) fell 11 percent. Its quarterly loss widened, due to higher wholesale prices for nuts.
But Vail Resorts (MTN), Men's Wearhouse (MW), and VeriFone (PAY) all gained after beating expectations. Vail was up 6 percent; Men's Wearhouse rose 5½ percent; and VeriFone jumped 9 percent. Demand for its merchant payment systems has been helped by growing concern about hackers.
Finally, Caesars Entertainment (CZR) fell 3 percent on a Bloomberg report that the gaming company has received a default notice from a group of bondholders.
What to Watch Monday:
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:
10 Tough Financial Questions You Must Ask Your Soon-to-Be Spouse
After Market: Employment Tops '08 Peak, Stocks Hit New Highs
Your credit score can affect your ability to start a family, buy a house or replace a car. Once you've married, your partner's credit score can be your problem, too, and it's not one you want to find out about after you file a loan application. Hint: It's a bad sign if your intended can't or won't answer this question.
Most of us consider this to be a closely guarded secret, but you can't hide it from your soon-to-be spouse for long. Nor should you. As you plan a life together, you need to know that both of you have realistic hopes and expectations about the lifestyle you'll enjoy.
You should know whether the person you're about to marry is living paycheck-to-paycheck. Many young people just starting out haven't banked much, and can't. But together you can work out a plan to establish an emergency fund covering three to six months of expenses.
A truly embarrassing question, but one that must be asked. Marrying someone makes their debt yours, too. And a substantial debt can wreck the lifestyle you want together. There is a worst-case scenario here: If the person you're planning to marry is skipping out on obligations like a student loan, credit card payments or child support, you might rethink your choice of partner. If your loved one just has poor spending habits, work it out together now.
As a couple, you need to decide whether you will keep your money in separate or joint bank accounts. Kadish notes that many couples opt for both, with a joint account for family expenses and separate personal accounts to cover day-to-day spending. Agreeing in advance on their use prevents squabbles later, not to mention the potential for bounced checks.
Talk about whether the health coverage each of you has is adequate to your needs as a couple. You may find that your partner's policy is better than yours, and that you can opt into it.
You or your spouse may have other job benefits that affect your joint planning. If, for example, one of you is eligible for a pension, that's a factor in your retirement planning. In any case, there's paperwork to be done, like adding your spouse's name as a beneficiary.
As a couple, you need to hash out your expectations for day-to-day life, and month-to-month spending. Will you eat out often? Is an annual vacation necessary to your well-being? Would you rather sit on the floor than buy furniture on credit? You need to understand each other's priorities. And if you're wise, you'll craft a spending plan that formalizes those priorities, so you're not spending carelessly.
Your retirement benefits are an asset that each of you brings to the marriage. You need to know what each of you is contributing now, and make changes if necessary. If, for example, your partner has a better 401(k) matching plan, it could affect your joint savings decisions.
You're getting ready to share the rest of your life with another person. Make sure you share dreams and aspirations as well. The colorless phrase "financial goals" covers a host of expectations for your life ahead. But you can't reach those goals without a plan -- so start crafting it now.