(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a higher note amid hopes about further stimulus from the Federal Reserve and ahead of a key ruling by a German court.
S&P 500 Index added 0.31 percent to finish at 1,433.57. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.52 percent to end at 13,323.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index inched up 0.02 percent to close at 3,104.53.
Investors keenly anticipate announcement on new stimulus measures at the U.S. Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)'s two-day policy meeting that starts on September 12.
UBS analyst Maury Harris expects an announcement of another round of quantitative easing at the FOMC meeting on September 13. "We expect the easing will take the form of a six-month program of at least $500 billion, primarily focused on Treasuries," Harris wrote in a note.
In European news, Germany's high court on Wednesday is expected to rule on whether to allow the country to join the European Stability Mechanism bailout fund aimed at address the sovereign debt crisis.
On the domestic economic front, the trade gap for July widened slightly to $42.0 billion from a revised $41.9 billion in June, the Department of Commerce reported, coming in better that economists estimation of $44.0 billion.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: PANW, UNFI, GMCR, SHFL, CASY, LM, AMRN, SON, RL, SQNM
In corporate news, Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE:PANW) tumbled 7.18 percent after the network security provider posted its fourth-quarter results that were lower than some analysts expected.
United Natural Foods Inc. (NASDAQ:UNFI) plunged 8.60 percent after the distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods posted in-line earnings for the fourth quarter amid sharp drop in margins.
Shuffle Master Inc. (NASDAQ:SHFL) retreated 4.67 percent following the gaming company's lower-than-expected quarterly results.
Casey's General Stores Inc. (NASDAQ:CASY) added 4.19 percent after the operater of convenience stores posted better-than-forecast quarterly earnings.
Legg Mason Inc. (NYSE:LM) rose 5.42 percent after the asset manager said its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Fetting has decided to step down effective October 1.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (NASDAQ:GMCR) gained 5.93 percent after Luigi Lavazza SpA boosted its stake in the company to 6.8 percent.
Sonoco Products Co. (NYSE:SON) fell 2.87 percent after the packaging services provider reduced its earnings forecast for the third quarter and removed its full-year outlook, blaming operating issues at several of its North American uncoated recycled paperboard mills.
Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE:RL) shed 2.55 percent after its UK peer Burberry Group Plc forecast full-year adjusted pretax profit to be around the lower end of market expectations.
Amarin Corp. Plc (NASDAQ:AMRN) declined 5.90 percent after the Dublin-based late-stage biopharmaceutical-company disclosed in a regulatory filing that the U.S. health regulators has delayed decision on exclusivity for its cholesterol drug.
Sequenom Inc. (NASDAQ:SQNM) lost 7.16 percent after the genetics analysis company disclosed plans to offer $100 million of Convertible Senior Notes due 2017.
European markets ended mixed, with Germany's DAX up 1.34 percent to close at 7,310.11. France's CAC40 rose 0.89 percent to finish at 3,537.30. U.K.'s FTSE 100 edged 0.02 percent lower to end at 5,792.19.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index declined 0.67 percent to finish at 2,120.55. Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 0.70 percent to end at 8,807.38. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.15 percent to close at 19,857.88. India's BSE Sensex closed at 17,852.95, up 0.49 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Crude oil futures advanced 0.44 percent to $96.95 per barrel and natural gas futures jumped 6.54 percent to $3.00 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures inched up 0.12 percent to $1,733.9 per ounce while silver futures shed 0.50 percent to $33.465 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.70 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2860. The British pound gained 0.44 percent against the greenback to 1.6070, while the dollar dropped 0.63 percent against the Japanese yen to 77.7700.