Stock index futures overcame selling resistance Monday to settle at their highest values since the Oct. 19 stock market collapse.
On other markets, cotton futures collapsed, grains and soybeans were mostly lower, livestock and meat were mixed, precious metals were mixed and energy futures were lower.
The contract for March delivery of the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index gained 3.90 to settle at 266.85 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, topping the previous post-collapse high of 264 set Jan. 5.
The March contract had rallied above the psychologically important 264-point barrier earlier in the session only to fall back. But the second surge inspired broad-based follow-through buying that continued until the close, indicating that the market had potential to move even higher, said Abbe Cocuzza, stock index strategist for Shearson Lehman Hutton Inc. in New York.
Cocuzza speculated that the next point of resistance was 274 points, the level at which the March S&P 500 contract opened on Oct. 19 after hitting a low of 280.40 in the previous session.
Cotton futures prices collapsed on the New York Cotton Exchange in a selloff linked to the impending expiration of the March contract.
Today marks the first notice day for the March cotton contract. Traders holding "long," or buy, positions rushed to liquidate those positions to avoid the possibility of being locked into agreements to take physical delivery of cotton on the contract's March 9 expiration date, analysts said.
The sharp decline in the March contract's price touched off computerized sell programs that drove prices on the three near-term contracts down the daily limit and sent prices on other contracts to new life-of-contract lows, said Ernest Simon, cotton specialist for Prudential-Bache Securities.
The contract for March delivery of cotton settled at 60.40 cents a pound, down the 2-cent limit.