Stocks end the day with tiny gains

A sign for Wall Street outside the New A sign for Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, July 15, 2013. Photo Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

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Investors nudged U.S. stocks into positive territory Monday, thanks in part to another round of corporate couplings.

At the close on Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 1.6 points, or nearly 0.1 percent, at 1,937.8. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 5.3 points, or 0.03 percent, to 16,781. The Nasdaq composite gained 10.5 points, or about 0.2 percent, to 4,321.1.

Three proposed acquisitions, including medical device maker Medtronic's $42.9 billion bid for rival Covidien, helped the market eke out a slight gain for the second trading day in a row.

Homebuilding stocks also got a boost from a survey showing that U.S. home builders' outlook on the housing market improved this month.

Stocks mostly hovered between small gains and losses through much of the day as traders monitored the conflict in Iraq and considered its potential impact on oil prices.

Two other deals also drew heightened interest from traders.

Williams Cos. hit an all-time high after the pipeline operator agreed to buy a part of natural gas processor Access Midstream Partners for nearly $6 billion. Williams vaulted $8.84, or 18.7 percent, to $56.02.

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TW Telecom climbed $2.65, or 7.3 percent, to $38.99 after the Internet provider agreed to be acquired by Level 3 Communications for about $7.3 billion, including debt. Level 3 shares fell $1.79, or 4.1 percent, to $42.30.

"Companies are looking to redeploy cash, looking to hopefully ignite growth through acquisition," said Sean Lynch, managing director of global equity for Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Investors will be looking ahead this week to what the Federal Reserve will say on Wednesday, when it wraps up its latest two-day meeting of its policymaking committee. "Where we'll see risk injected [into the market] will be if there's anything but a rubber stamp of the Fed waiting until next year to raise rates," Lynch said.

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