Stocks up slightly on mergers, acquisitions
NEW YORK — Stocks closed slightly higher on Monday, supported by a flurry of merger news, but turmoil in Iraq drove oil prices up and kept trading choppy.
Energy stocks were the day’s winners, with the S&P energy index up 0.5 percent. The S&P financial sector index was the biggest decliner, down 0.4 percent.
“Iraq is an excuse at this point for investors to sell at these levels. As soon as there is some selling, buyers come in almost immediately, and that is why the market is choppy like today,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
On the merger front, medical device maker Medtronic Inc agreed to buy Dublin-based Covidien Plc for $42.9 billion and shift its executive headquarters to Ireland in the latest move by U.S. companies to take advantage of lower tax rates abroad. Medtronic shares slid 1.1 percent to $60.03.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.27 points or 0.03 percent, to end at 16,781.01.
The S&P 500 gained 1.62 points or 0.08 percent, to 1,937.78.
Williams Companies jumped 18.7 percent to $56.02. The stock was the S&P 500’s second-biggest percentage gainer. The pipeline operator said it agreed to acquire control of Access Midstream Partners LP for $5.99 billion as the first step toward merging it with its operations.
Level 3 shares fell 4.1 percent to $42.30, while tw telecom’s stock rose 7.3 percent to $38.99.
Brent crude for August delivery rose 48 cents to settle at $112.94 a barrel, off an intraday high of $113.28.
Economic data was positive. Manufacturing output rose in May and factory activity in New York state accelerated sharply this month, buoying hopes of a strong rebound in economic growth this quarter.
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