NEW YORK — US stocks are rising as investors judge that the economy still isn't growing fast enough for the central bank to cut back on its stimulus program.

Last month the Standard & Poor's 500 index logged its first monthly decline since October after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank could ease back on its stimulus this year if the economy continues to recover.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 146 points, or 1 percent, at 15,054 at midday Monday.

The S&P 500 was up 17 points, or 1.1 percent, at 1,623. The S&P 500 had its best first half of a year since 1998, returning 13.8 percent with dividends reinvested.

The Nasdaq composite was up 44 points, or 1.3 percent, at 3,447.