Stock Market Today: Juiced by M&A, S&P Smashes Through 2,000

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The S&P 500 smashed its way through 2,000 on Monday after a minor pullback, bolstering the case that the current rally will continue.

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After a tepid finish on Friday, a raft of deals headlines hit the markets on Monday and inspired heavy gains in the benchmark U.S. stock indices. The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.47% to 1,997.65 in the early afternoon hours after trading as a high as 2,001.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.51% to 17,087.43. The Nasdaq added on 0.35% to 4,554.17.

"Money managers are more scared of missing out on profits than the market tanking," said S&P Dow Jones Indices' senior index analyst, Howard Silverblatt.

Major U.S. stock indices finished higher for the week but mostly settled on a muted note on Friday as markets digested as-expected dovish remarks from Federal Reserve Chief Janet Yellen and as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi offered no new surprises on ECB monetary policy, sticking to his usual script of standing ready to adjust policy further. Positive economic news and traders front-running the view that Yellen would stay dovish pushed the broader market to its best weekly return in the last four months.

Deals news was heating up Monday. Burger King (BKW) is in talks to buy Tim Hortons (THI) , the Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain, and form a new publicly listed company based in Canada. Burger King surged 20.4% to $32.64 and Tim Hortons soared 21.77% to $76.50.

Roche (RHHBY) announced Sunday an $8.3 billion acquisition of InterMune (ITMN) and its idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis drug Esbriet. InterMune jumped 35.48% to $72.89.

Engine Capital LP, which along with a partner controls more than 1% of Ann (ANN) stock, believes a strategic or private-equity buyer would be willing to pay between $50 and $55 a share for the women's retailer, 47% above Friday's closing price of $37.52 at the high end, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Ann shares popped 4.64% to $39.26.

U.S. new home sales in July came in at a less-than-expected seasonally adjusted annual rate of 412,000, the government reported on Monday. The Markit PMI "flash" services index for August signaled that U.S. service sector output rose at its slowest in August since May.

"At this juncture, both the intermediate and longer-term technical picture of the market remain bullish and we have not seen any uptrend violations that would suggest otherwise," said Piper Jaffray technical market strategist Craig Johnson.

--By Andrea Tse in New York

Follow @AndreaTTse

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