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US: Stocks lifted by Apple, GM


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks notched solid gains Monday following the launch of Apple's smartwatch and a General Motors announcement of US$5 billion in share buybacks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 138.94 points (0.78 per cent) to 17,995.72.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 8.17 (0.39 per cent) at 2,079.43, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 15.07 (0.31 per cent) to 4,942.44.

Apple rose 0.4 per cent after the tech giant launched the Apple Watch, a high-end smartwatch that allows users to make and receive calls and messages and track health and fitness.

GM advanced 3.1 per cent after announcing that activist investor Harry Wilson agreed to drop his bid to join the board of directors in exchange for the US$5 billion share repurchase programme.

The indices' gains helped offset sharp losses Friday after a strong US jobs report lifted speculation the Federal Reserve will more quickly raise benchmark interest rates from zero, where they have been pegged since December 2008.

Macerich, which owns and operates shopping malls in the western US, jumped 7.0 per cent after receiving an unsolicited bid from mall giant Simon Property worth US$22.4 billion, including debt.

Macerich, which refused to negotiate with Simon previously, confirmed it had received the proposal and would review it. Simon slipped 0.1 per cent.

Whiting Petroleum, a big player in the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota, leaped 10.8 per cent on reports it hired bankers to represent the company with prospective buyers.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International rose 3.0 per cent on news that activist Bill Ackman's fund, Pershing Square Capital, took a 4.9 per cent stake in the company.

Yahoo fell 1.0 per cent as activist Starboard Value called on the tech company to take steps to address a "bloated" cost structure, including spinning off its Japan business.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.19 per cent from 2.23 per cent Friday, while the 30-year dropped to 2.20 per cent from 2.83 per cent. Bond yields and prices move inversely.


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