Stocks Ended with Tiny Gains

U.S. stocks Monday ended with tiny gains as enthusiasm for a fresh round of mergers competed with worries over Europe’s debt outlook after Standard & Poor’s cut Greece’s debt ratings. The Dow average ended up 1.06 points, or 0.01%, at 11,952.97. The S&P 500 added 0.85 point, or 0.07%, to 1,271.83. The Nasdaq Composite closed off 4.04 points, or 0.15%, to 2,639.69.

Monday was the busiest day in more than a month for mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. equities market, with more than 10 deals reported before the session opened. Monday’s moves have pushed U.S. targeted M&A volume totals to $496.3 billion for 2011 to date, according to Shyh-Wen Tzeng at Dealogic.

Greece became the lowest-rated country in the world in the rankings of Standard & Poor’s on Monday, putting it below Ecuador, Jamaica, Pakistan and Grenada.The rating agency cut Greece three notches and warned it would view a likely debt restructuring as a default.

Oil tumbled Monday to the lowest level in nearly a month. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude dropped $1.99, or 2 percent, to settle at $97.30 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The social networking giant Facebook will likely go public in the first quarter of 2012, with a valuation that could top $100 billion.


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