US Stocks Moderately Higher Tuesday; Led by Banks

(AP) -- Stocks were moderately higher in early trading Tuesday, led by gains in major banks after many of them announced plans a day earlier to return billions more to their shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1% as of 10 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2% and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.2%.

With two trading days left in June, the market is getting ready to close out a strong first half of the year as the economy emerges from its pandemic-induced recession. The S&P 500 is on track for a gain of more than 14% for the first half of 2021.

Bank stocks were among the biggest gainers. Morgan Stanley rose 3.9% after the bank announced it would double its quarterly dividend and buy back $12 billion of its own stock over the next year.

Morgan Stanley was one of several banks to announce dividend increases and stock buybacks after passing the Federal Reserve's most recent "stress tests." As part of passing the tests, the Fed freed the banks from the coronavirus pandemic restrictions that had been placed upon them last year.

Other bank stocks that were higher included JPMorgan Chase, which was up 1%, and Goldman Sachs, which was up 2.2%.

Boeing rose 1% after United Airlines announced it would buy 200 of the company's 737-MAX aircraft, betting that travel will return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming year. United is also buying 70 aircraft from Boeing rival Airbus.

Investors also got a dose of good economic news. The Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index rose to 127.3 in June. That was well above economists' forecast of 119, according to FactSet.

The big piece of economic data this week will be Friday's jobs report for June. Economists expect U.S. employers created 675,000 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.7%.