* U.S. home builder sentiment plunges in Feb- NAHB
* Forest Labs surges after Actavis confirms acquisition
* Tesla shares hit all-time intraday high
* Indexes: Dow flat, S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.5 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Feb 18 U.S. stocks were little changed
on Tuesday after Wall Street's biggest gain of the year as
disappointing economic reports weighed on investor sentiment.
Data showed U.S. homebuilder confidence suffered its largest
one-month drop ever in February, hit by this winter's
relentlessly severe weather and concerns about the costs of
labor and building lots.
A separate report showed New York Federal Reserve's gauge of
manufacturing was weaker than expected in February after hitting
a 20-month high in January.
But a bright spot came from the mergers and acquisitions
field. Shares of Forest Laboratories Inc rocketed nearly
30 percent after Actavis said it would acquire the specialty
pharmaceuticals company in a massive cash and stock deal valued
at about $25 billion.
"Just the fact that acquisitions are being made shows that
prices aren't completely out of whack. That's supportive to the
market and it certainly shifts investors' focus from profit
taking," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm
LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Coca-Cola Co reported an 8.3 percent fall in
quarterly earnings, hurt by the separation of its bottling
operations in Brazil and the Philippines. The stock was down 3.9
percent at $37.40, weighing on the Dow index.
Tesla Motors Inc shares hit an all-time high
following a report Apple's mergers and acquisitions chief,
Adrian Perica, met Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk last year,
sparking speculation that Apple could be interested in buying
the electric sports car maker.
Tesla shares rose 2.9 percent to $203.97 after hitting an
all-time intraday high of $205.50 shortly after the open. Apple
shares were up 1.2 percent at $550.37.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.99 points or
0.02 percent, to 16,151.4, the S&P 500 gained 1.9 points
or 0.1 percent, to 1,840.53 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 20.768 points or 0.49 percent, to 4,264.793.
Soros Fund Management, one of the hedge fund industry's most
closely watched investors, trimmed its stakes in J.C. Penney
and Herbalife late last year, marking a notable
shift in course only months after buying into the companies.
J.C. Penney shares fell 0.7 percent to $6.10 while Herbalife
shares gained 1.1 percent to $67.12.
Shares of BlackBerry Ltd jumped 6 percent
to $9.52. Dan Loeb's Third Point LLC Hedge fund disclosed a
10-million-share stake in the Canadian telecommunication and
wireless equipment company.
Mobile game maker King Digital Entertainment PLC, best known
for the hit puzzle Candy Crush Saga, said it planned to raise up
to $500 million in an initial public offering.
U.S. stocks closed higher on Friday, with major indexes
notching a second straight week of gains as investors shrugged
off some weak economic data that was attributed to bad weather.
U.S. markets were closed Monday for Presidents Day.