Stocks were mixed in late afternoon trading Monday, shedding small gains from earlier in the day. Corporate merger news and an encouraging survey of homebuilders had helped lift the market even as traders monitored the growing insurgency by Sunni militants in Iraq and its implications for global oil prices.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index was flat at 1,935 as of 3:40 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average was little changed at 16,775. The Nasdaq composite added three points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,314.
ACQUISITION PRESCRIPTION: Covidien jumped 21 percent after the Ireland-based medical device manufacturer agreed to be bought by U.S. competitor Medtronic. The deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions by medical-device manufacturers. Covidien rose $15.09 to $87.11. Medtronic fell 78 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $59.94.
CORPORATE COUPLINGS: Williams Companies rose $8.78, or 18.6 percent, to $55.97 after announcing a deal to expand its stake in Access Midstream Partners. TW Telecom vaulted $2.96, or 8.1 percent, to $39.30 after the Internet provider agreed to be acquired by Level 3 Communications for about $7.3 billion, including debt.
THE QUOTE: "Companies are looking to redeploy cash, looking to hopefully ignite growth through acquisition," said Sean Lynch, managing director of global equity for Wells Fargo Private Bank.
BAD REVIEW: Biotech company Vertex Pharmaceuticals sank 8.5 percent, the steepest decline among stocks in the S&P 500 index. Investors pummeled the stock after Bernstein published a harsh critique of a trial involving the company's cystic fibrosis treatment, Kalydeco. Vertex shed $6.21 to $67.28.
BOX-OFFICE BLUES: DreamWorks Animation fell $2.90, or 10.6 percent, to $24.45 after the debut of its film "How to Train Your Dragon 2" failed to take top honors at the North American box office over the weekend. "Dragon" opened in second place with $50 million in ticket sales domestically. It also landed the top spot overseas.
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