Stocks are little-changed this morning, sitting at record highs
with few scheduled events to serve as catalysts this week. There
are several bullish deal-related stories.
S&P 500 futures are down less than 0.1 percent, while European
markets are posting small gains. Asia was mostly higher overnight,
led once again by India, where the Sensex advanced another 0.7
The S&P 500 ended last week at 1949 and has made record closing
highs in 8 of the last 10 sessions. It's broken out of a
three-month consolidation range as the labor market continue to
improve and after Europe pushed interest rates to unprecedented
lows. There's also evidence of easier lending after a report Friday
afternoon showed consumer credit growing more than forecast.
Merger news is the big theme today. Merck agreed to purchase Idenix
Pharmaceuticals for $3.85 billion, more than triple the smaller
company's value on Friday. Analog Devices is paying $78 a share for
Hittite Microwave, a 29 percent premium. The bidding war for
Hillshire Brands also concluded with Tyson Foods paying $63 a
share. That's 7 percent more than Friday's close and 75 percent
above its level when optionMONSTER's tracking programs first
detected bullish activity in the sausage maker three weeks ago.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is active as well, disclosing a 9.4
percent stake in Family Dollar on Friday afternoon. FDO is up 11
percent this morning, and rival Dollar General rose 7 percent on
speculation the veteran corporate raider will push a merger between
the two companies. Apple also completes an expected stock split
Gains have been broadly distributed across sectors and industry
groups in the last week, according to our
market scanner. The most noteworthy development has been the
strength in financials following a long period of underperformance.
Oil and silver are up almost 1 percent today, though copper and
grains are down about the same amount. The euro is posting small
losses across the board, but the Australian and Canadian dollars