MARKETS GLOBAL-Shares rise, U.S. stocks at record high; crude oil gains

Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:28am EST

* S&P 500 hits record in broad U.S. equity rally; German sentiment helps

* Oil gains on G20 global growth outlook

* Dollar rebounds against euro, slips against yen

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Stocks on Wall Street surged to an all-time high on Monday, helping to lift global equities markets on optimism over merger activity, while crude oil prices rose on expectations of revived growth in the demand for oil.

U.S. stocks advanced in a broad rally, pushing the benchmark S&P 500 to a record high. A surprise improvement in German business morale added to optimism over the euro zone's recovery, helping to boost European shares.

Recent U.S. data that came in below expectations had fueled concern that equity markets were over-valued. But that was offset by a string of merger and acquisition activity.

Radio frequency chipmaker RF Micro Devices Inc agreed to buy peer TriQuint Semiconductor Inc for about $1.6 billion, and Men's Wearhouse Inc raised its offer for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc by more than 10 percent.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn's renewed call for the spinoff of eBay Inc's fast-growing PayPal division added to the merger frenzy.

"The M&A news still seems to be moving forward between the RF Micro deal, the Jos. A Bank deal and Carl Icahn's pushing on eBay," said Rick Meckler, president of hedge fund LibertyView Capital Management LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"For some investors that suggests the markets may not be over-valued if it allows for this kind of activity," he said.

Shares of RF climbed 16 percent to $6.74, while TriQuint gained 21.7 percent to $11.23. Men's Wearhouse rose 8.3 percent to $48.86, while Jos. A. Bank was up 8.7 percent at $59.83.

Shares of eBay rose 3.2 percent to $56.31.

Reduced tensions in Ukraine, where new authorities issued an arrest warrant for mass murder against ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, also boosted sentiment, Meckler said.

MSCI's all-country equity index rose 0.57 percent, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares rose 0.33 percent to 1,347.50.

German business morale rose in February to its highest since July 2011, Munich-based Ifo think tank's business climate index showed, suggesting Europe's largest economy will grow more quickly in the first quarter after expanding only modestly last year.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 141.25 points, or 0.88 percent, to 16,244.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 17.34 points, or 0.94 percent, at 1,853.59. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 39.50 points, or 0.93 percent, at 4,302.91.

The Nasdaq punched to a new high for the year and to highs last seen almost 14 years ago, before the technology bubble burst.

U.S. Treasury prices fell. The 10-year note fell 3/32 in price to yield 2.7427 percent.

German Bund futures fell to the day's low on the German sentiment indicator. The Bund traded down 22 ticks at 143.65.

Brent crude oil steadied around $110 a barrel, resisting sharp declines in some other risk assets on news of further supply losses in Africa and expectations of revived oil demand growth.

Oil markets found support from a fairly upbeat meeting of officials from the world's top economies in Sydney, who announced a target of generating more than $2 trillion in additional output over five years while creating millions of new jobs.

Brent crude was up 50 cents at $110.35 a barrel, after settling higher for a second straight week. U.S. oil was up 57 cents to $102.77 a barrel.

Gold hit its highest in nearly four months on worries over Chinese growth and the pace of the U.S. recovery, but later slipped back.

Gold futures for April delivery were up 1 percent at $1,337.20 an ounce.

The euro pared gains against the dollar to retreat, falling 0.11 percent to 1.3722.

The dollar index rose 0.08 percent to 80.173, while against the yen, the dollar was 0.04 percent lower at 102.48.

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