US Markets

Stocks finish mostly higher as large caps rally; Pfizer leads Dow gains

Investors get defensive: Pisani

U.S. stocks mostly climbed on Monday, with the Nasdaq Composite rebounding from a more than 1 percent drop, as investors turned to large-cap companies while tracking developments in Ukraine, increased deal activity and an ongoing sell-off in social media and other new technology companies.

"The bounce back is really just big-cap leading the way. This is just a big-cap short-covering rally," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, who noted the late-session rebound as the the Dow and S&P 500 hit or breached their 50-day moving averages.

"Everybody is staring at the same screens, the same levels and trading it the same way," Boockvar added.

Reports that Russian troops had returned to their bases from the border with Ukraine after Ukraine said it would not use force also surfaced late in the session, Boockvar said.

Drug manufacturer Pfizer rose after saying it had renewed contact with AstraZeneca on resuming takeover discussions after two prior offers for its British rival failed. General Electric climbed after Germany's Siemens made a competing offer for French engineering firm Alstom. Forest Laboratories said it would acquire Furiex Pharmaceuticals for up to $1.46 billion.

Bank of America shares slid after it revised its previously announced regulatory capital ratios downward and suspended its $4 billion share buyback program and a planned hike in its quarterly dividend.

"We started off very strong on some of the M&A activity, but as the day wore on and the news came out on Bank of America having accounting issues, we had continued weakness carry over from last week in the biotech space, and the buying that we saw this morning just didn't have enough follow through," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners.

"It's a continuation of the theme of selling everything that is high growth, with a lot of the money moving into old technology," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

Tesla Motors, Netflix, and were among the shares being sold, with shares of Netflix hit after Microsoft announced plans to create original programming, joining the field of those competing with Neflix as the provider of online entertainment strives to produce original content.

"The valuations on those are just way high, those names need to come back down to earth," said Paul Nolte, senior vice president and portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management.

Markets rally on roller coaster day

Major U.S. Indexes

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose as much as 138 points and fell 48. It ended up 87.28 points, or 0.5 percent, at 16,448.74, with Pfizer pacing blue-chip gains.

The rose 6.03 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,869.43, with telecommunications faring best and financials hardest hit among its 10 major sectors.

The Nasdaq declined 1.16 point to 4,074.40.

The CBOE Volatility Index, a measure of investor uncertainty, declined to 13.90.

Advancers pulled just ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where 821 million shares traded. Composite volume neared 4 billion.

We are in a stock picker's market: Pro

The National Association of Realtors released its index of pending home sales, with had buyers signing more contracts to buy existing homes in March.

Home sales finally thaw, but just slightly

Developments related to Ukraine on Monday had the United States and European Union imposing addition sanctions on Russian companies and people tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The dollar fell against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and the 10-year Treasury yield used in figuring mortgage rates and other consumer loans rose 1 basis point to 2.673 percent.

Gold turned lower, with the June gold contract down $1.80, or 0.1 percent, at $1,299 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude-oil futures for June delivery added 24 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $100.84 a barrel.

Stocks fell on Friday, with equities sliding into the loss column for the week, on concern about escalating tension in Ukraine.

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson

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