TODAY'S PAPER
Good Evening
Good Evening
Business

Stocks close with gains, led by health, telecommunications

Stocks slipped a little early Monday, March 21,

Stocks slipped a little early Monday, March 21, 2016, but Starwood Hotels gained on news that it had accepted an offer from Marriott to be acquired. This trader worked Friday, March 18, as news of an offer to Starwood broke. Credit: Bloomberg News / Michael Nagle

Stocks veered higher for the close Monday after recovering from an early loss. Telecommunications and health care stocks rose, while materials and energy companies lagged. Investors evaluated the latest string of deal news, as well as a new report showing U.S. home sales slipped last month.

At the close on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 21.6, about 0.1 percent, at 17,623.9. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed up 2 points, about 0.1 percent, at 2,051.6. The Nasdaq composite added 13.2 points, about 0.3 percent, to close at 4,808.9.

CRUDE ENERGY. About the same time, the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil was up 50 cents, about 1.2 percent, at $41.64. In London, the international benchmark, Brent crude, was up 41 cents, about 1 percent, at $41.61.

ANALYST’S OPINION. “It’s frankly a little bit surprising we’ve been able to hold on to the gains we’ve had,” said Mike Baele, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “Investors have really come to terms with the fact that recession risks are receding in the U.S., and that certainly was helped by the Fed action last week.” The Federal Reserve said last week that it would slow the pace of interest rate increases this year because of concerns about the global economy.

STARWOOD DEAL. Starwood Hotels closed up 4.5 percent after agreeing to be acquired by Marriott International with a sweetened bid worth more than $14.4 billion. Starwood, which owns Sheraton, Westin and St. Regis, over the weekend became the first U.S. hotel operator to gain access to Cuba, a day before the arrival of President Barack Obama. Shares added $3.62 to close at $84.19.

HOUSING SALES SLIP. Americans retreated from home-buying in February, reversing months of prior gains as low inventories push up prices to levels that restrict sales. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of existing homes fell 7.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million.

EXECUTIVE SHUFFLE. Valeant Pharmaceuticals jumped 7.7 percent after the company announced a succession plan to replace CEO Michael Pearson. Activist investor Bill Ackman will join the troubled company’s board. The stock added $2 to close at $28.98.

More news