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Strong Economic Data, Acquisitions Propel US Stocks Higher

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US equity benchmarks were advancing on Monday lifted by large-scale acquisition news and economic data showing continued strength in the nation's non-manufacturing sector.

The Institute of Supply Management's closely-watched non-manufacturing business survey posted a reading of 59.5 in February, in line with estimates and slightly lower than the level registered in January for 59.9. The reading marked the 97th consecutive month of expansion in economic activity in the sector.

Separate data from research company IHS Markit also showed a picture of economic expansion with the US Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) posting a reading of 55.8 in February compared to 55.9 in January. Readings above 50 signal expansion while those below denote contraction.

All 11 of the key sectors making up the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were higher at the time of writing, with the real estate, utilities and energy sectors up by 1.39%, 1.14% and 0.88%, respectively.

In equities, Bermuda-headquartered property and casualty reinsurer XL Group ( XL ) was leading the gainers on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, up by 29.2% at the time of writing, after French reinsurance company Axa (CS.PA) said it had agreed to acquire it for $15.3 billion.

Oil and gas production company Chesapeake Energy ( CHK ) was 5.1% higher, followed by CF Industries ( CF ), a distributor of agricultural fertilizers, and semiconductor manufacturer Micron Technology ( MU ),both up by 4.5%.

Decliners on the index were led by hospitality company Marriott ( MAR ), 2.6% lower, followed by discount stores chain Dollar Tree (DLTR), 2.3% lower and travel company Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH), 1.9% lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.79% higher, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up by 0.83% and the Nasdaq was 0.68% higher at the time of writing.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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