U.S. stocks rallied on Monday, lifting the S&P 500 to a intraday record and briefly clearing its 2014 loss, as investors embraced activity on the M&A front and continued to disregard lackluster economic data as largely due to winter weather.
Mergers and acquisitions came into play, with RF Micro Devices agreeing to acquire TriQuint Semiconductor for about $1.6 billion, while Men's Wearhouse hiked its cash tender offer for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers.
"Maybe stocks are not overpriced at these levels if you have big players coming in and still doing deals," said Chris Gaffney, senior market strategist at EverBank.
"Bad weather is going to impact housing and retail sales; once it's spring and the weather is not so bad, we'll see a true reading on the economy," Gaffeny added.
Pfizer rose after the drugmaker said a study involving 85,000 people showed Prevenar 13, its blockbuster vaccine against childhood infections, prevented community-acquired pneumonia in people 65 and older; Humana shares rallied after the health insurer said the government's proposed cuts to Medicare appear to be less than previously thought, and Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for quicker speeds. Shares of eBay climbed after Carl Icahn accused the online auctioneer of lapses in corporate governance and reiterated his call for the spinoff of its payment business.
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