US stocks add to 2 weeks of gains, helped by deal-making

DAMIAN J. TROISE AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks posted slight gains on Wall Street on Monday, adding a bit to the last two weeks of gains.

However, trading remains choppy as uncertainty continued over several ongoing trade disputes and their possible effect on economic growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 22.92 points, or 0.1%, to 26,112.53. The S&P 500 index rose 2.69 points, or 0.1%, to 2,889.67 and the Nasdaq composite index rose 48.37 points, or 0.6%, to 7,845.02.

Financial companies were the biggest losers as bond yields slipped. The KBW Bank index, a measurement of the 24 biggest banks, fell 1.3%.

The muted gains mirror last week's pattern of choppy day-to-day trading as investors search for direction ahead of an interest rate decision by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.

Investors focused on a round of deal-making, while continuing to pay close attention to the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

The current impact from the spat between the U.S. and China isn't enough to cause a recession, but a further escalation of tensions could become a trigger, according to Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth for Glenmede.

"I think that's why investors are so focused on this trade issue," he said. "In a worst case scenario, we're talking about a 1.5% GDP impact."

The worst-case scenario would involve additional tariffs on Chinese goods along with other global tariffs, including the currently postponed actions against Mexico.

The S&P 500 eked out a modest gain of 0.5% last week. Investors have been swinging between risky and safe-play holdings on a lack of developments in the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China. Jitters over trade disputes and their impact on global economic growth have created a volatile market.

Array BioPharma surged 57% after announcing that it had agreed to be bought by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for $11.4 billion.

Array currently makes an advanced skin cancer treatment and has a deep pipeline of cancer drugs in development. Pfizer makes a wide range of cancer and other drugs. It is the biggest U.S. drugmaker by revenue. Pfizer rose 0.3% to $42.87 a share.

New York auction house Sotheby's surged 58.6% after announcing its sale to Patrick Drahi, a media and telecom entrepreneur and art collector.

Other companies were also moving after announcing deals.

Oilfield services company C&J Energy Services surged 20% after announcing it is being bought by rival Keane Group in an all-stock deal. LegacyTexas Financial Group rose roughly 2% after it announced a $2.1 billion cash and stock sale to regional bank Prosperity Bancshares.

Align Technology fell more than 6% after the medical device maker ended discussions about a potential distribution deal with Straumann Group. The company focuses on products for the dental industry. The deal was initially part of a patent dispute settlement with a unit of Straumann. Instead, Align will receive a $16 million payment.

In other trading, benchmark crude oil fell 1.1% to settle at $51.93 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, dropped 1.7% to close at $60.94 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 2.4% to $1.69 per gallon. Heating oil was down 1.6% to $1.80 per gallon. Natural gas was mostly unchanged at $2.39 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold edged down 0.1% to $1,342.90 per ounce, silver rose 0.2% to $14.83 per ounce and copper rose 0.6% to $2.65 per pound.

The dollar rose to 108.57 Japanese yen from 108.55 yen on Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1216 from $1.1207.