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US: Nasdaq closes at new record high

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[NEW YORK] The Nasdaq plowed to a fresh record on Monday as US stock markets followed European equity markets higher on increased optimism for a deal that could avert a Greek default.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was at 5,153.97, up 36.97 points (0.72 per cent), besting the prior record set June 18 by 21 points.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 103.83 (0.58 per cent) to 18,119.78, while the broad-based S&P 500 advanced 12.86 (0.61 per cent) to 2,122.85.

Earlier, equity markets in Europe surged after eleventh-hour reform proposals from Greece to international creditors lifted hopes of a deal. European Union President Donald Tusk said the offers were the "first real proposals for many weeks" from the Greek government.

"It looks like Greeks are going to give ground on actions on spending and it may just be enough to get to the finish line," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.

Health insurer Cigna bolted 4.7 per cent higher as it rejected as "inadequate" a bid from the nation's number-two insurer Anthem. Anthem estimated the deal was worth US$53.8 billion, including debt. Anthem rose 3.6 per cent.

Aetna, another leading insurer seen as a possible merger partner, gained 3.2 per cent. But Humana fell 6.1 per cent as some analysts worried Humana could be left without a merger partner amid a wave of consolidation.

Pipeline company Williams surged 25.9 per cent to US$60.86 after it rejected a US$64 a share takeover offer from Energy Transfer Equity, saying it "signficantly undervalues" the company.

Athletic apparel company Under Armour jumped 2.1 per cent after 21-year-old golfer Jordan Spieth, who dons the brand, became on Sunday the youngest US Open champion since 1923.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia fell 12.3 per cent on news it will be acquired by Sequential Brands Group for US$353 million. Sequential dropped 1.1 per cent.

Dow member Disney advanced 0.8 per cent following a strong opening weekend for its Pixar unit's latest animated movie, Inside Out. Comcast also gained 0.8 pecent after Jurassic World, a product of Comcast's Universal Studios, continued to dominate the box office.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.38 per cent from 2.27 per cent Friday, while the 30-year advanced to 3.17 per cent from 3.05 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

AFP