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Stocks mixed in quiet trading

Stocks stumbled out of a three-day holiday weekend

Stocks stumbled out of a three-day holiday weekend Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, trading mixed on disappointing earnings statments. These traders were on the job on Jan. 31, 2014. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

U.S. stocks closed mostly higher yesterday as traders got back to work after a long holiday weekend.

It was a fairly quiet day for investors, who had relatively little news to react to.

Health care stocks rose more than the rest of the market after pharmaceutical company Actavis said it was buying rival Forest Laboratories for $25 billion in cash and stock.

Investors should expect more large deals this year, said Mike Serio, regional chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank.

"Companies have so much money on their balance sheets, and there's only so much you can do with it," he said. "You could increase your dividend. You could buy back stock. You could spend it on [business investments], or you can do deals."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.12 percent to 1,840.76. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.68 percent to 4,272.78. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 23.99 points to 16,130.40.

The Dow was dragged lower by Coca-Cola, which fell $1.46, or 3.75 percent, to $37.47.

Coke reported its income and sales fell in the fourth quarter compared with the same period a year ago. -- AP

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