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US: Wall St rebounds from recent losses

[NEW YORK] US stocks climbed more than 1 per cent on Monday, rebounding from a sharp decline last week, helped by deal activity in healthcare and a bounce in energy shares.

Also boosting investors' risk appetite, Chinese stocks surged to seven-year highs, helped by hopes for more infrastructure spending and monetary policy easing.

The Dow registered its biggest daily percentage gain since Feb 3 and all 10 primary S&P 500 sectors rose on the day, led by energy, which jumped 2.1 per cent despite a slight decline in Brent and U.S. oil prices. "(The rally) sort of seems to be global growth based right now: the Chinese economy is falling but they're going to stimulate," said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners in New York.

M&A activity has helped boost equities, especially shares of smaller companies, Mr Landesman said. "That's been a theme of this market on and off for a very long time."

On the deal front, OptumRx Corp, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, agreed to buy pharmacy benefit manager Catamaran Corp in a deal worth US$12.78 billion. Shares of UnitedHealth, a Dow component, rose 2.5 per cent to $121 while US shares of Catamaran added 23.8 per cent to US$59.83.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 263.65 points, or 1.49 per cent, to 17,976.31, the S&P 500 gained 25.22 points, or 1.22 per cent, to 2,086.24 and the Nasdaq Composite added 56.22 points, or 1.15 per cent, to 4,947.44.

Major indexes each lost more than 2 per cent last week.

Uncertainty about Friday's jobs report and upcoming earnings, which start in earnest in mid-April, could create volatility this week, with the stock market closed for Good Friday.

The Nasdaq Biotech index rose 1.1 per cent but remains roughly 5 per cent below a record high from earlier this month. The group has recently been under pressure, with the index down 5.2 per cent last week in its biggest weekly decline in a year.

Teva Pharmaceutical said it would buy Auspex Pharmaceuticals Inc for US$3.5 billion.

Ireland's Horizon Pharma Plc said it would acquire Hyperion Therapeutics Inc in an all-cash deal worth about US$1.1 billion.

About 5.8 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, below the 6.7 billion daily average this month, according to BATS Global Markets.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,271 to 806, for a 2.82-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,856 issues rose and 881 fell, for a 2.11-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 26 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 110 new highs and 44 new lows.


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