Stocks are little-changed this morning, sitting at record highs with few scheduled events to serve as catalysts this week. There are several bullish deal-related stories.
S&P 500 futures are down less than 0.1 percent, while European markets are posting small gains. Asia was mostly higher overnight, led once again by India, where the Sensex advanced another 0.7 percent.
The S&P 500 ended last week at 1949 and has made record closing highs in 8 of the last 10 sessions. It's broken out of a three-month consolidation range as the labor market continue to improve and after Europe pushed interest rates to unprecedented lows. There's also evidence of easier lending after a report Friday afternoon showed consumer credit growing more than forecast.
Merger news is the big theme today. Merck agreed to purchase Idenix Pharmaceuticals for $3.85 billion, more than triple the smaller company's value on Friday. Analog Devices is paying $78 a share for Hittite Microwave, a 29 percent premium. The bidding war for Hillshire Brands also concluded with Tyson Foods paying $63 a share. That's 7 percent more than Friday's close and 75 percent above its level when optionMONSTER's tracking programs first detected bullish activity in the sausage maker three weeks ago.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is active as well, disclosing a 9.4 percent stake in Family Dollar on Friday afternoon. FDO is up 11 percent this morning, and rival Dollar General rose 7 percent on speculation the veteran corporate raider will push a merger between the two companies. Apple also completes an expected stock split today.
Gains have been broadly distributed across sectors and industry groups in the last week, according to our researchLAB market scanner. The most noteworthy development has been the strength in financials following a long period of underperformance.
Oil and silver are up almost 1 percent today, though copper and grains are down about the same amount. The euro is posting small losses across the board, but the Australian and Canadian dollars are higher.
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