* S&P 500 hits record in broad U.S. equity rally; German
* Oil gains on G20 global growth outlook
* Dollar rebounds against euro, slips against yen
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, Feb 24 Stocks on Wall Street surged to
an all-time high on Monday on optimism over merger activity that
also lifted global equities markets, while crude oil prices
rose, helped by expectations of revived growth in the demand for
U.S. stocks advanced in a broad rally, pushing the benchmark
S&P 500 to a record as the Nasdaq punched to a new high for 2014
and levels last seen almost 14 years ago, when the technology
bubble was imploding.
A surprise improvement in German business morale added to
optimism over the euro zone's recovery, helping to boost
European shares. The lifting of Spain's sovereign debt rating
one notch by Moody's Investors Service Inc. also helped boost
Recent U.S. data that came in below expectations had fueled
concern that equity markets were over-valued. But that view 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 15.7 percent to $6.725, while TriQuint
gained 21.2 percent to $11.19. Men's Wearhouse rose 9.1 percent
to $49.23, while Jos. A. Bank was up 8.2 percent at $59.58.
Shares of eBay rose 3.3 percent to $56.38.
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 0.77
percent, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top
European shares closed up 0.64 percent at a preliminary
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 at a
faster pace in the first quarter after expanding only modestly
last year. European stocks have risen sharply
over the past 2 1/2 weeks, boosted by hopes the region's
economic growth and corporate profits will recover this year.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose
184.39 points, or 1.15 percent, to 16,287.69. The Standard &
Poor's 500 Index was up 20.65 points, or 1.12 percent, at
1,856.90. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 43.37
points, or 1.02 percent, at 4,306.78.
U.S. Treasury prices fell. The 10-year note fell
7/32 in price to yield 2.7572 percent.
German Bund futures fell to the day's low on the
German sentiment indicator. The Bund traded down 19 ticks to
settle at 143.68.
Brent crude oil rose above $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
Brent crude was up 70 cents at $110.55 a barrel,
after settling higher for a second straight week. U.S. oil
was up 95 cents to $103.15 a barrel.
Gold rose to a near four-month high, adding to last week's
gains as investors grew more anxious about the pace of the U.S.
economic recovery and China's growth.
Gold futures for April delivery rose more than 1
percent to $1,337.00 an ounce.
The euro traded near break-even against the dollar,
down 0.02 percent at 1.3734.
The dollar index fell 0.05 percent to 80.202, while
against the yen, the dollar was 0.01 percent lower at