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US M&A hits record $1 trillion in first half of year

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Takeover activity in the U.S. surged past $1 trillion in the first six months of the year as corporations took advantage of historic low interest rates and record cash piles to invest in future growth.

The tab for mergers and acquisitions in America during the first half of this year is the highest ever for any nation, according to data compiled by Dealogic. That value also marks a nearly 50 percent increase from the same period last year.

The spike in deals in 2015 highlights companies' increased desire to improve margins and find growth opportunities amid lackluster earnings and record stock prices.

Last month, for example, became the strongest on record for announced U.S. transactions, reaching $247 billion, Dealogic said.

"The [current] M&A activity appears to be a quest for market share when organic growth is not strong enough to satisfy shareholders and management," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of BMO Private Bank.

"I think it's a reflection of slowing economic activity," he added, noting the trend in which companies would rather go out and acquire a competitor rather than expand their businesses internally.