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US: S&P 500 ends at record high; mergers offset Japan recession


[NEW YORK] The S&P 500 edged up to close at a record high on Monday as deal activity worth US$100 billion offset concerns about overseas growth after Japan's economy slipped into recession.

Shares of Baker Hughes, up 8.9 per cent, and Allergan , up 5.3 per cent, gave the S&P 500 its biggest boost after Halliburton said it would buy Baker Hughes and Allergan agreed to be bought by Actavis.

The Nasdaq closed lower, weighed down by Google, which fell 1.5 per cent to US$546.64, and Gilead, down 1.6 per cent at US$100.44. "It shows the strength of the overall market that you could have this recession news out of Japan, and yet have the market inch upwards," said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management Corp in Chicago.

But he said the outperformance of larger-cap names compared with smaller caps shows investors still are gravitating toward the more liquid investments.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13.01 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 17,647.75, the S&P 500 gained 1.5 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 2,041.32, a record closing high.

Nasdaq Composite dropped 17.54 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 4,671.00, while the small-cap Russell 2000 index ended down 0.8 per cent.

Shares of LinkedIn dropped 4.5 per cent to US$223.28. Facebook's professional version of its social network will launch in the next few months that would compete with services such as LinkedIn, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. Facebook shares were down 0.9 per cent at US$74.24.

Among the most active NYSE stocks were Halliburton, down 10.62 per cent to US$49.23, and US-listed shares of Petrobras, down 6.23 per cent to US$9.33. Actavis rose 1.7 per cent to US$247.94.

On the Nasdaq, Apple, down 0.2 per cent at US$113.99; Yahoo, up 1.2 per cent at US$52.37; and Cisco Systems , up 0.6 per cent at US$26.47, were among the most actively traded.

About 5.7 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, below the 6.5 billion average this month, according to BATS Global Markets.

NYSE decliners outnumbered advancers 1,720 to 1,373, for a 1.25-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,780 issues fell and 920 advanced for a 1.93-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 36 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 76 new highs and 69 new lows.