* S&P 500 less than 1 percent from record levels
* Hillshire to buy Pinnacle Foods for $6.6 billion
* Ukraine situation remains in focus after referendum
* Dow up 0.7 pct; S&P 500 up 0.9 pct; Nasdaq up 1.7 pct
(Updates to late afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, May 12 U.S. stocks rallied on Monday,
with the Dow hitting a record high and the S&P 500 within
striking distance of its own record, while shares of Internet
and biotech shares jumped.
Internet and biotech names were among the strongest
advancers of the day. Biogen Idec gained 4.7 percent to
$300.12 while TripAdvisor Inc shot up 6.4 percent to
Both groups - often described as "momentum" stocks due to
massive gains in recent months - have been wildly volatile in
recent sessions, moving on concerns over valuation and hopes for
high levels of growth.
The day's advance was broad, with S&P cyclical sector
indexes such as materials, industrials and
consumer discretionary all up more than 1 percent.
The rally came despite a vote by pro-Russian rebels in favor
of self-rule in eastern regions of the country in a referendum
dismissed by Kiev and Western governments as illegal. The
European Union is set to step up pressure on Russia by taking
steps to extend sanctions to companies, as well as individuals.
"The vote seemed like a negative, but the violence that many
thought would happen didn't, and at this point, no news is good
news when it comes to Ukraine," said Channing Smith,
co-portfolio manager of the Capital Advisors Growth Fund at
Capital Advisors in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 113.43 points
or 0.68 percent, to 16,696.77, the S&P 500 gained 17.29
points or 0.92 percent, to 1,895.77 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 70.61 points or 1.73 percent, to 4,142.482.
The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks climbed
2.5 percent. Last week, it flirted with correction territory,
dropping nearly 10 percent from its all-time closing high.
Hillshire Brands Co agreed to buy Pinnacle Foods Inc
in a deal valued at about $6.6 billion, including debt.
Pinnacle jumped 12.3 percent to $34.20 while Hillshire fell 4.9
percent to $35.14.
(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Bernadette
Baum and Jan Paschal)