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Merger and acquisition activities and a rally in health insurers took benchmarks to their record highs on Monday. A buoyant German confidence report also had a positive impact on the markets. The benchmarks ended in the green with the S&P 500 briefly reaching its all-time high. The Nasdaq ended the day at a fourteen-year high.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article
 
The  Dow  Jones  Industrial  Average  (DJI)  gained  0.6% to  close  Monday’s  trading session at 16207.14. The Standard & Poor 500 (S&P 500) too moved up 0.6% to finish at 1847.61. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.7% to move up to 4292.97.  The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) dropped 3.1% to settle at 14.23.  Total volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 4 billion shares. Advancers outpaced the decliners on the NYSE. For 59% stocks that gained, 37% stocks closed lower on the NYSE.
 
The  S&P  500  had  surged  to  an  intraday  record  high  of  1858.71 . Though the index failed to hold on to the record, it finished with decent gains buoyed by strength in health insurance companies. Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) led the gains among its peers as its shares jumped 10.6% to $113.69. The largest US health insurer UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) moved up almost 3% to $76.01.
 
Shares of Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET), WellPoint Inc. (NYSE:WLP) and Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE:THC), key rivals of Humana and UnitedHealth Group, advanced 1.9%, 2.7% and 3.1%, respectively. Overall the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) rose 0.8%.
 
New deals also lifted the mood among the investors. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc. (NASDAQ:JOSB) shares surged 9.1% after The Men's Wearhouse, Inc. (NYSE:MW) agreed to increase the cash tender offer for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers shares from $57.5 per share to $63.5 per share. This offer is based on the condition that Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc. must terminate the deal to acquire Eddie Bauer. Men's Wearhouse shares also soared 7.5%.
 
There was also some merger and acquisition activity in the Technology sector as TriQuint Semiconductor (NASDAQ:TQNT) said it will merge with RF Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:RFMD). Shares of these semi-conductor companies TriQuint Semiconductor and RF Micro Devices, Inc. rallied 26.1% to close at $11.64 and 21% to end at $7.0, respectively. The companies expect the all-stock transaction to create annual revenues of more than $2 billion for the combined company.
 
On the whole the Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) went up 0.4%. However, many of its large components such as Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO), QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) fell 0.1%, 0.2% and 0.8%, respectively.
 
Upbeat German business confidence for the fourth straight month also boosted the sentiment. The Ifo business climate index rose to 111.3 in February from 110.6 in January, better than the expected figure of 108.3, suggesting growth in industry and trade.
 
Coming back to the sectors, eight out of ten S&P 500 sectors gained with the energy sector taking the lead. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) gained 1.5%. Stocks from the sector such as Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Schlumberger Limited. (NYSE:SLB) and Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY) climbed 1.5%, 1.3%, 2.9% and 0.7%, respectively.

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