U.S. stocks closed higher on Monday, with the Nasdaq ending at a record, as hopes grew that a deal would be reached in Europe that would prevent Greece from defaulting on loans. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Optimism over a Greek debt deal sparked a broad rally on Wall Street, with the Nasdaq closing at a record high. The rise in Treasury yields raised the appeal of bank stocks, and deals further spurred stocks in the hot healthcare sector. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has made a deal to sell itself to Sequential Brands. The price: $353 million dollars in cash and stock, a 21 percent premium to the close on June 17th, before the Wall Street Journal first reported the deal. Sequential Brands also owns Justin Timberlake's William Rast clothing brand, and recently bought a majority stake in Jessica Simpson's brand. Martha Stewart will serve as chief creative officer. Two big suitors rejected on this merger Monday. Health insurer Anthem says it's still committed to Cigna, even after its smaller rival rejected Anthem's $47 billion cash-and-stock offer. Cigna says, Anthem lacks growth strategies. And pipeline operator, Williams Companies, spurned the $48 billion takeover bid by the publicly traded partnership, Energy Transfer Equity, calling the offer too low. Investors said yes to the nos. Williams was the biggest gainer on the S&P 500, followed by Cigna. Home builders' stocks, such as KB Home and PulteGroup, rallied after a report showing U.S. existing home sales rose to a 5-1/2 year high last month. First-time buyers drove sales. Moody's Analytics' John Lonski: SOUNDBITE: JOHN LONSKI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S CAPITAL (ENGLISH) SAYING: "This is very important because this group for the most part had been renting as they attempt to build up their savings so they could afford a down payment. I mean a jump by home sales also perhaps reflects a slight easing of mortgage lending standards." Pop superstar Taylor Swift got a big player to pay, pay, pay. Facing Swift's criticism over its royalties policy, Apple agreed to pay artists during the free trial period for users of its new Apple Music streaming service. Apple's shares rose. Like Taylor Swift, Fitbit shares won't stop moving and grooving. Shares continued to rocket higher two days after they debuted on Thursday. Shares surged in Europe as investors bet that Greek concessions on its debt would lead to a deal averting a default.