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US: Wall Street stocks edge to new records for second straight day

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[NEW YORK] US stocks cruised to fresh records for the second straight day on Monday amid a tech-sector mega-merger and the opening debate in Congress on a Republican plan for deep corporate tax cuts.

Oil stocks also rose as crude prices hit a two-year high on political upheaval in Saudi Arabia.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up less than a tenth of a percentage point at 23,549.1 and the S&P 500 added 0.1 per cent to reach 2,591.13.

With the big merger offer between two of the world's largest chip makers, the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 0.3 per cent, to close at 6,786.44.

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"The big story today is energy and the IT sector," Karl Haeling of LBBW told AFP, noting that the S&P energy index rose more than two percent.

"That's probably helping optimism over mergers and acquisitions." Shares in Broadcom rose 1.4 per cent on Monday's news of the company's proposed US$130 billion acquisition of rival chipmaker Qualcomm, which also saw its shares rise 1.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, oil markets reacted to news over the weekend that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, consolidated power with a purge of other royal family members and government officials.

The moves quickly sent markets higher. A barrel of benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery soared US$1.71 to finish at US$57.35.

Oil shares felt the impact, with Royal Dutch Shell and BP soaring more than two per cent, while Chevron rose 1.8 per cent, ConocoPhillips added 1.3 per cent Exxon Mobil jumped 0.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Republican lawmakers began debate on sweeping proposed tax cuts, which would lower corporate tax rates to 20 per cent from 35 per cent - a prospect that has cheered investors since Mr Trump's election victory a year ago.

Paying for the tax cuts, however, has proved a thorny issue for Republicans and the bill's chances of success are less than guaranteed.

In other big stock moves, Michael Kors raised its 2017 revenue forecast, bucking a trend among retailers and seeing its share price skyrocket 14.7 per cent.

AFP

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