Stock Market Today Reacts to Merger Monday on Wall Street

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It was a muted start for U.S. equities when the stock market today (Monday) opened. But by mid-day, the bulls were back and benchmarks marched higher.

Just before noon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 13.41, or 0.09%, to 15,354.40. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 2.54, or 0.15%, to 1,670.01. The Nasdaq was higher by 6.42, or 0.18%, to 3,505.39

Year-to-date, the Dow is up 17.17%, the S&P up 16.92% and the Nasdaq 15.88%. Moreover, the number of stocks in the S&P hitting 52-week highs rose to 37.2%, according to Bespoke Investment Group, proof the rally is indeed broad based.

Earnings season is nearly done, and the economic calendar is quiet heading into the extended Memorial Day weekend. Yet there are a few things that could rattle stocks this week.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) shareholders take a nonbinding vote Tuesday on whether to split the role of chairman and chief executive officer currently held by Jamie Dimon.

Wednesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke gives his testimony on economic outlook before Congress. Every word will be dissected for hints as to when QE might be scaled back.

Also, on Wednesday, the Fed releases minutes of its latest meeting on monetary policy. April new home sales data is expected to show a rise to an annual pace of 4.98 million, and the Bank of Japan issues its interest rate decision.

Thursday brings a report on existing home sales, seen falling to a pace of 410,000 on tight supply. Friday's durable goods orders are expected to come in at 1.7%, up from a negative 5.7 in the previous month.

Making News in the Stock Market Today

  • Yahoo! Inc (Nasdaq: YHOO) shares rose nearly 1% after announcing plans to buy blogging site Tumblr for $1.1 billion. The deal will help Yahoo tap into the younger, active online user crowd at Tumblr. Yet some Tumblr fans are worried that deal will cause the site to become inundated with ads. But as Yahoo moves to monetize Tumblr's 300 million monthly unique visitors who create roughly 900 posts a second and the some 120,000 new sign-ups daily, Yahoo promises "not to screw it up." Skeptics say Yahoo overpaid.

    Tumblr is reported to have earned $13 million in 2012, meaning Yahoo paid a pricey 10 times revenue, notes BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis. "Ten times is what you pay to date the belle of the ball. It's on the outer bands of M&A," he told Reuters.

  • Actavis Inc. (NYSE: ACT), a generic drug maker, agreed to buy smaller rival Warner Chilcott (Nasdaq: WCRX) in a $5 billion all stock deal. The merger follows failed talks in which Actavis attempted to sell itself to Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: VRX).  Warner Chilcott shareholders will receive 0.16 shares of Actavis for each share owned, a 5% premium to Friday's close. ACT shares rose 2.34%, while WRCX rose nearly 3% to $20.30, just shy of its 52-week high of $20.51.
  • Elan Corp Plc (NYSE: ELN) struck its second major drug deal in a week, and announced a bigger share buyback, in attempts to fend off a $5.7 billion takeover bid from U.S. investor Royalty Pharma. The Irish drug company is buying Austrian rare drug specialist AOP Orphan for $337 million, and is paying $40 million for a 48% stake in Dubai-based sales and marketing firm Newbridge Pharmaceuticals. That leaves Elan with $1.2 billion of the $3.25 billion received in February from Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB) for Tysabri, a blockbuster treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Also on Monday, Seamless and GrubHub, two leaders in restaurant food delivery, announced a merge. The tie-up allows customers in more than 500 cities to order from 20,000 local restaurants through the newly conjoined company. The duo delivered a combined $100 million in revenue in 2012.

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