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Overnight Markets: US stocks rise amid merger activity

Overnight Markets: US stocks rise amid merger activity

Wall Street gained on Monday, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 ending at record highs again, as small-cap shares rallied with more deal news raising enthusiasm for stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19 points or 0.11%, to 16,943. The S&P 500 gained two points or 0.09%, to 1,951. The Nasdaq Composite added 15 points or 0.34%, to 4,336. It was a fourth straight record closing high for the S&P 500 and a third for the Dow.

Monday's merger activity prompted investors to buy some stocks. Merck & Co (MRK.N) said it has agreed to buy Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc (IDIX.O) in a deal valued at about $3.85 billion.

In other deal news, Analog Devices Inc (ADI.O) said it would buy Hittite Microwave Corp (HITT.O) in a deal valued at $2 billion.

Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N) prevailed over Pilgrim's Pride Corp (PPC.O) in a bidding war over Hillshire Brands Co (HSH.N), offering to buy the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages for $8.55 billion, including debt.

Shares of Idenix, which has three drugs in development to treat hepatitis C, soared 229% on heavy volume. In contrast, Gilead Sciences (GILD.O) the maker of the market-leading hepatitis C treatment, Sovaldi, fell 4.1%.

Hittite shot up 28.6%, while Hillshire added 5.3%. Merck, a Dow component, edged up 0.2%. Analog gained 5% and Tyson slid 6.5%.

International Game Technology (IGT.N) shares surged late in the session after Reuters reported the slot machine maker is working with Morgan Stanley to explore a sale. The stock jumped 14.4%.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) was the Nasdaq's most-active stock, rising 1.6% in heavy volume.

In Asia, shares advanced on Tuesday in morning trade after US shares climbed to a fresh record and China reported inflation quickened last month.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.1 percent to 143.67 as of 9:57 a.m. in Hong Kong. South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 0.4% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.3%. Japan’s Topix index fluctuated between gains and losses, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index, New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.1%.

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