Fresh M&A Round Lifts Dow Jones Industrials, While Techs Battle

The Dow closed at a record Monday for the fifth day in a row, buoyed by Alcoa's $27 billion bid for Alcan.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 48.35 points, or 0.36 percent, to end at a record of 13,312.97. Earlier, the Dow also hit an all-time intraday high of 13,317.69.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 3.86 points, or 0.26 percent, to finish at 1,509.48, off a fresh 52-week high at 1,511.00. But the Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 1.20 points, or 0.05 percent, to close at 2,570.95. Earlier, the Nasdaq also reached a new 52-week high at 2,580.06.

Alcoa Inc. , the world's largest aluminum company, pushed the Dow and the S&P 500 higher with a gain of 8 percent, leading the latest round of takeover deals that have lifted the market in recent months.

Armor Holdings Inc. , a leading maker of armor for U.S. troops and their vehicles, said it will be acquired by British defense contractor BAE Systems Plc for $4.1 billion, sending its shares up 5.4 percent to $86.60 on the New York Stock Exchange. .

"All these takeovers in diverse sectors are propping up the market. Every single day, you've got some merger or another," said Scott Vergin, portfolio manager of Thrivent Financial in Minneapolis.

"You would think the market has to take a breather because you've had so many straight days of up, but the positives — the mergers, the buyouts — keep propping up the market and shrinking the supply of equity out there, plus showing that stocks are cheap," Thrivent Financial's Vergin said.

Goldman Sachs' chief investment strategist, Abby Joseph Cohen, raised her year-end target levels for the S&P 500 index by 3.2 percent, because of the stronger-than-expected Q1 corporate earnings growth. She also lifted her target for the Dow to 14,000 from 13,500, an increase of 3.7 percent.

A drop in oil prices also helped lift the stock market. U.S. crude oil futures fell 46 cents to settle at $61.47 a barrel, after earlier falling more than a dollar.

But economic news expected later in the week could inject some volatility into the market, with interest-rate decisions due in the euro zone, Britain and the United States. The Federal Reserve will make its rate decision on Wednesday.

Amomg the Dow's major advancers, shares of Alcoa shot up 8.3 percent to $38.63 on the NYSE.

U.S.-listed shares of Alcan surged 34.5 percent to $82.11 and were the biggest percentage gainers on the Big Board.

Investor Warren Buffett contributed to the M&A fever. The head of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. , the insurance and investment company, said Sunday he would like to buy a "huge" business.

Shares of Internet media company Yahoo Inc. fell 1.9 percent to $30.38, dragging on the Nasdaq, after The Wall Street Journal reported late on Friday that Yahoo's talks with Microsoft Corp. were no longer active.

Volume was moderate on the NYSE, where about 1.32 billion shares changed hands, well below last year's estimated daily average of 1.84 billion. On the Nasdaq, about 1.74 billion shares traded, below last year's daily average of 2.02 billion.

Advancers outnumbered decliners by a ratio of about 9 to 7 on the NYSE.

But just the opposite was true on the Nasdaq, where about eight stocks fell for every seven that rose.