Updated from 4:04 p.m. ESTAn early run in stocks ran out of steam Monday and the broader market ended only moderately higher as surging oil offset a spate of merger activity. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.32 point to close at 11,076.02. The S&P 500 rose 2.55 points, or 0.2%, to 1284.13. The Nasdaq Composite rose 4.99 points, or 0.22%, to 2267.03. "The M&A activity gave us a bid to start the day, but then oil turned upwards and erased our small gains," said Jay Suskind, head of institutional equity trading with Ryan Beck & Co. "Interest rates are still climbing and, combined with oil, it was enough to continue this tug of war." Losses of 1% or more in General Motors ( GM), McDonald's ( MCD) and Honeywell ( HON) pressured the Dow. About 1.51 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, with advancers beating decliners by a 9-to-7 margin. Trading volume on the Nasdaq was 1.69 billion shares, with advancers outpacing decliners 8 to 7. The 10-year Treasury was down 3/32 in price to yield 4.77%. The dollar fell against the euro and was little changed against the yen. A number of big takeovers made news. Capital One ( COF) announced an agreement to acquire North Fork ( NFB) for $14.6 billion, uniting two banks, while McClatchy ( MNI) will swallow Knight-Ridder ( KRI) for $4.51 billion plus assumed debt. In Europe, German drug and chemical maker Merck KGaA made an unsolicited bid for rival Schering AG ( SHR) that's worth about $18 billion. The New York Stock Exchange ( NYX), meanwhile, is reportedly mulling an offer for the London Stock Exchange that would compete with a $4.2 billion bid publicized Friday from the Nasdaq Stock Market ( NDAC). Oil spiked after the reported unraveling of a deal in which Russia had planned to carry out uranium enrichment on Iran's behalf. The plan was part of a compromise intended to ease tensions around Iran's nuclear research program. In Nymex floor trading, April crude finished up $1.81 to $61.77 a barrel. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Sector index was lower by 0.5% after a 7.6% decline in shares of Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD). Punk Ziegel & Co. downgraded AMD to accumulate from buy. Elsewhere, the Amex Oil index rose 2.1% and the Philadelphia/KBW Bank Sector index gained 0.3%, while the Amex Airline index lost 1.2%. To view Gregg Greenberg's video take on today's market,
Apple Computer ( AAPL) closed 3.9% higher after Citigroup raised the stock to buy from hold. The firm believes Apple will introduce new products, including a new video iPod, for the company's 30th anniversary in April. Apple was up $2.49 to $65.68. CarMax ( KMX) guided up for the fourth quarter, saying its wholesale business did better than expected. The used-car dealer expects to make 37 cents to 39 cents a share for the fourth quarter, well ahead of the 28-cent estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. Shares of CarMax surged $4.24, or 13.6%, to finish at $35.36. Shares of AstraZeneca ( AZN) finished higher after its Crestor anticholesterol drug was found in a clinical study to reduce plaque in the arteries of certain heart patients. Vytorin, from Schering-Plough ( SGP) and Merck ( MRK), has been making strides as a cholesterol treatment. AstraZeneca added $1.16, or 2.3%, to $50.96. Schering-Plough tacked on 41 cents, or 2.3%, to close at $18.46. After the bell, retail chain Target ( TGT) is expected to report same-store sales data for February, with a rise of 1.9% expected. Before the report, Target finished up 5 cents, or 0.1%, to $53.36. Also, Sonus Networks ( SONS) will release fourth-quarter earnings late Monday. The Thomson First Call consensus is for a penny a share. Sonus finished Monday's session with a gain of 15 cents, or 2.9%, to $5.42. Overseas markets were higher, with London's FTSE 100 adding 0.8% to 5953 and Germany's Xetra DAX rising 0.9% to 5855. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei surged 1.5% overnight to 16,362, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7% to 15,542.