Stocks End Roller Coaster Trading Day Higher

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After a tumultuous trading session, Wall Street capped the day broadly higher. Defensive names performed the best, while cyclical issues generally came under pressure.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 87.3 points, or 0.53%, to 16449, the S&P 500 advanced 6 points, or 0.32%, to 1869 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.2 points, or 0.03%, to 4074.

The S&P 500 capped last week with a loss, its second in the past three. The sudden downward turn Friday was driven by concerns about the terse situation between Russia and the Western world. News the U.S. is going to strike Russia with additional sanctions initially sparked another hit to sentiment, sending Asian shares lower.

However, corporate news helped lift U.S. stock-index futures and European shares early in the day. Later, though, stocks shifted between gains and losses.

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) officially said it made a nearly $100 billion bid to buy AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) earlier this year, and said earlier this month it is still pursuing talks with the company.

Forest Laboratories (NYSE:FRX) said it would buy Furiex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:FURX) in a deal valued at just south of $1.5 billion. Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) officially called off merger talks with Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX), Barrick said in a press release.

Several big earnings reports are due out this week, including ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR).

On the economic front, the National Association of Realtors said signed contracts to buy previously-owned homes rose 3.4% in March, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations for a 1% increase.

"After a dismal winter, more buyers got an opportunity to look at homes last month and are beginning to make contract offers," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in a report.

"Sales activity is expected to steadily pick up as more inventory reaches the market, and from ongoing job creation in the economy."

Elsewhere, U.S. crude oil futures rose 60 cents, or 0.6%, to $101.20 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline gained 0.01% to $3.075 a gallon. Gold was flat at $1,301 a troy ounce.

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