NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks nosed higher in quiet trading Monday, with many traders still on summer vacation and investors waiting for signals from the Federal Reserve about help for the economy.
All three major stock indexes were up, but only slightly. Trading volume was light, typical for August.
Investors were looking ahead to Friday, when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Investors will look for clues about whether the Fed will buy government bonds or take other action to speed the economic recovery.
In the absence of major economic developments, investors have been hanging on the chairman's every word. On Monday, with no Fed news, Apple played an outsized role in the market's performance.
Apple was up after a California court on Friday ruled that South Korea-based Samsung had copied some of the features and designs of Apple's iPhone and iPad. Apple stock rose $14.18, or 2.1 percent, to $677.40.
Earlier in the day, the stock hit $680.87, an all-time high. Last week, Apple became the biggest company in U.S. history by market value. It makes up more than 13 percent of the Nasdaq composite index, and 4.4 percent of the Standard & Poor's 500.
On Monday, the Nasdaq was up 11 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,081. The S&P 500 was up four points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,415. The Dow Jones industrial average, which does not include Apple, languished. It was up five points, just 0.03 percent, to 13,163.
"The market is kind of on hold until Jackson Hole," said Randy Warren, chief investment officer of Warren Financial Service outside Philadelphia. "Probably Apple is the only thing that's moving the market today. It's stunning, how big they are."
Many investors are still on vacation until after Labor Day, and the ones who aren't have had to scrounge for developments to read the market.
With many European lawmakers on summer break, the debt crisis there has trudged along. The U.S. economy is sluggish, but not dramatically improving or worsening. China has shown signs of a slowdown, but not a recession.
Of 18 trading days this month, the Dow has moved more than 1 percent only once. On five days it has been virtually flat, moving less than one-tenth of a percentage point.
Still, reminders of the underlying strain in Europe were clear, even without any major developments.
Over the weekend, Germany's economy minister and finance minister both said they wouldn't give Greece a break on deadlines for adopting spending cuts that Germany has asked for.
On Monday, Germany's central bank head said that he opposed a bond-buying plan that could lower borrowing costs for countries like Spain and Italy but that would require Germany foot most of the bill.
French President Francois Hollande, usually a little more lenient with Greece, said Saturday that Greek leaders should be willing "to go all out" to meet the spending cuts and other obligations they agreed to for bailouts.
Bigger events lie ahead. German courts will decide next month whether Germany is constitutionally allowed to keep participating in bailouts. And an important debt report on Greece isn't due until late September at the earliest.
Shares of Hertz and Dollar Thrifty both rose after Hertz announced it would buy its rival. Hertz shares jumped 13 percent, or $1.64, to $14.79. Dollar Thrifty jumped $6, or 7.4 percent, to $87.
Best Buy, which has struggled to adapt its bricks-and-mortar stores to an online-shopping world, rose after announcing that the company's founder could pursue his plans to buy it.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.