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No News Is OK News as Markets Hold Onto Record Gains

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With a busy week of economic data behind us, U.S. markets closed higher Monday, breaking even more intraday trading records despite the absence of any market-moving catalyst.

By market close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.11% to 16,943.1, the S&P 500 edged 0.09% higher to 1,951.27, and the Nasdaq jumped 0.28% to 4,333.71.

"This week the market is absorbing the moves and data from last week," Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial, told TheStreet. Positive sentiment was spurred by an above-average jobs report released Friday and news the European Central Bank would cut interest rates with hints of more stimulus to come.

However, with the S&P 500 up 5.5% year to date, there are concerns of a correction following this rally. "As markets normalize, [they] are going to have these pullbacks," noted Krobsy. "But so long as the market has a positive catalyst, the markets can grind higher." The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index due out Tuesday morning, for example, mightn't be a major market mover but optimism could lend credence to the thesis the economy is gaining momentum, she argued.

Toward the end of the week, economic indicators such as Thursday's retail sales and Friday's consumer sentiment figures could make market waves.

To individual stocks making moves Monday, Apple's (AAPL) split-adjusted pricing began in Monday trading. Shares gained 1.6% to $93.70.

A flurry of deal news came out Monday. Shares of Idenix Pharmaceuticals  (IDIX) shot 229.1% higher to $23.79 on news Merck & Co. (MRK) had agreed to purchase the company for $3.85 billion.

Hittite Microwave Corp (HITT) soared 28.6% to $77.90 after Analog Devices (ADI) said it would buy the chipmaker in a deal worth $2 billion.

The tug-of-war for Hillshire Brands (HSH) took a turn after Pilgrim's Pride (PPC) backed off from the bidding war following Tyson Foods' (TSN) latest offer to purchase the food processor for $8.55 billion. Hillshire added 5.3%, while Tyson and Pilgrim's dropped 6.5% and 6.7%, respectively.

Family Dollar (FDO) was jumping 13.4% after activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a 9.4% stake in the discount retailer and said that he may push for the exploration of strategic alternatives for the company.

Stocks to watch after the bell, Casey's General Stores (CASY) and Pep Boys - Manny, Moe & Jack (PBY) will report earnings.

-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff, Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York.

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