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Overnight Markets: US stocks climb as technology shares rally

Overnight Markets: US stocks climb as technology shares rally

US stocks climbed on Monday, pushing the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 to record highs, while the Nasdaq rallied as shares of Internet and biotech companies advanced.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 112 points or 0.68%, to 16,695, a record closing high. The S&P 500 rose 18 points or 0.97%, to 1,897, also a record closing high. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 72 points or 1.77%, to 4,144.

The rally came despite a vote by pro-Russian rebels in favour of self-rule in eastern regions of the country in a referendum dismissed by Kiev and Western governments as illegal. The European Union is set to step up pressure on Russia by taking steps to extend sanctions to companies, as well as individuals.

In corporate news, Biogen Idec (BIIB.O) surged 4.8% and TripAdvisor Inc (TRIP.O) rose 5.8%. Twitter (TWTR.N) gained 5.9% after news reports that brokerage SunTrust raised its rating on the stock to "buy".

In deal news, Hillshire Brands Co (HSH.N) agreed to acquire Pinnacle Foods Inc (PF.N) in a deal valued at about $6.6 billion, including debt. Pinnacle surged 13.2%, while Hillshire fell 3.2%.

US drugmaker Allergan Inc (AGN.N) fell 1% after the company, known for Botox, its popular anti-wrinkle treatment, rejected Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc's (VRX.TO) (VRX.N) takeover offer of $47 billion. Valeant's US-listed shares slipped 0.8%.

US-listed shares of Indian companies and India-related exchange-traded funds also rose as exit polls in India predicted that the country's main opposition party - viewed as more business friendly - would win general elections. Among ETFs, the Wisdom Tree India Earnings Fund (EPI.P) gained 3.7 percent.

After the bell, shares of DirecTV (DTV.O) gained 6.6% after a source said AT&T Inc (T.N) is in advanced talks to acquire the company.

During the regular session, shares of 21st Century Fox (FOXA.O) rose 3.1%. Britain's largest pay-TV company BSkyB (BSY.L) is in talks to buy Sky Deutschland (SKYDn.DE) and Sky Italia.

In Asia, shares gained on Tuesday as investors weighed earnings and after US equity indexes climbed to records.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1% to 139 as of 10:40 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix (TPX) index jumped 1.6% and South Korea’s Kospi index rose 0.8%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.8%, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.6%. Taiwan’s Taiex Index rose 0.7%. Markets in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Bangladesh are closed for a holiday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.5% after jumping the most in seven weeks yesterday on optimism state reforms will boost equity markets. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1%.

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