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Stock markets close with modest gains

The New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street

The New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street on Aug. 24, 2015. Credit: AP / Seth Wenig

Stocks gained modestly Monday as investors awaited the start of quarterly reports on corporate earnings and data on China's September imports.

The stock market is coming off its best week of the year. Drugmaker Eli Lilly dropped 7.7 percent Monday after announcing that it had stopped the development of a drug to treat cardiovascular disease. Shares closed down ¢6.70 at $79.44.

EMC gained 1.8 percent after agreeing to be acquired by Dell. EMC shares closed up 49 cents at $28.35.

At the close on Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 index had gained 2.6 points, about 0.1 percent, to 2,017.5. The Dow Jones industrial average had added 47.4 points, about 0.3 percent, to nearly 17,132. The Nasdaq composite had added 8.2 points, about 0.2 percent, to 4,838.6.

CRUDE ENERGY: As the markets closed, the price of benchmark U.S. crude was down $2.21 at $47.42 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

CHINA TRADE: Forecasters expect data Tuesday to show China's September imports contracted by as much as 15 percent from a year earlier in a new sign of weakness in the world's second-largest economy. Exports are expected to have declined as well due to weak global demand. The slowdown has sent shock waves through economies that supply raw materials and components to China's vast manufacturing industry.

BIG TECH DEAL: Massachusetts-based data storage company EMC said it has agreed to be acquired by Texas-based Dell Inc. in a deal valued at about $67 billion. Since going private in 2013, Dell has been investing in research and development and expanding its software and services business.

PULLING THE PLUG: Eli Lilly dropped after the drugmaker said it was halting development of evacetrapib, a drug that was intended to treat patients with high-risk cardiovascular disease.

A GOOD WEEK: The stock market is coming off its best week of the year. Most of the gains came after the release of last week's disappointing jobs report, which suggested the Federal Reserve would postpone a long-anticipated interest rate rise for several months. That signal was reinforced Thursday, when the minutes from the September Fed meeting showed policymakers are too concerned about low inflation and the slowdown in China to raise interest rates. Low rates can help boost stocks by reducing returns on other, fixed-income investments such as bonds.

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