* Gilead climbs after Merck’s hepatitis C drug trial results
* McDonald’s sales fall in October
* Cable companies fall after Obama net neutrality statement
* Indexes up: Dow 0.16 pct, S&P 0.25 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct (Updates to midday)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Nov 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose modestly on Monday, as an absence of major market catalysts gave investors little reason to make big bets after the Dow and S&P 500 advanced for a third straight week to record highs.
Earnings season begins to wind down this week, with 16 S&P 500 companies expected to report quarterly results, including retailers Wal-Mart and Macy’s and network equipment maker Cisco Systems.
“Sort of a reluctant rally on the day,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
“It’s been a very sharp rally off a very sharp correction, no reason it shouldn’t go higher but all it takes is one very determined seller to start a cascade of selling.”
McDonald’s Corp rose 0.3 percent to $95.41 after its worldwide sales at restaurants open at least 13 months fell 0.5 percent in October but still beat expectations.
Gilead Sciences rose 1.7 percent to $108.27 after data from a midstage study showed Merck’s attempt to shorten hepatitis C treatment by adding Gilead’s Sovaldi to its own oral two-drug combination came nowhere near the desired efficacy. Merck shares were down 1.1 percent to $58.69.
Thomson Reuters data showed that of 448 companies in the S&P 500 to report earnings, 74.6 percent beat expectations, above the 63 percent beat rate since 1994 and 67 percent for the past four quarters. Earnings are expected to grow 10 percent over the year-ago period.
The Dow has gained 7.3 percent while the S&P 500 has risen 7.7 percent over the past three weeks, the best three-week performance for both indexes since October 2011.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 27.67 points, or 0.16 percent, to 17,601.6, the S&P 500 gained 5.08 points, or 0.25 percent, to 2,037 and the Nasdaq Composite added 13.93 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,646.47.
Shares in cable providers fell after U.S. President Barack Obama said the Federal Communications Commission should reclassify broadband to regulate it more like a public utility. Comcast lost 3.5 percent to $53.21, Time Warner fell 3.9 percent to $138.06, and Cablevision shed 2 percent to $18.55.
Toll Brothers Inc, the largest U.S. luxury homebuilder, reported a 29 percent jump in quarterly revenue as housing demand strengthened. Its shares rose 3.9 percent to $33.47. (Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)