NEW YORK - Stocks surged yesterday as another round of corporate takeovers prodded investors to continue a largely uninterrupted months-long buying streak. The Dow Jones industrial average registered its 24th record close this year, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index came within striking distance of its record high.
Beyond the takeover news, which has lent buoyancy to the markets for months, a stronger-than-expected reading on consumer sentiment helped investors set aside some concern that consumers unnerved by higher gas prices would pull back on spending and up-end the economy's smooth slowdown.
The latest takeover news, including deals involving marquee names like General Electric Co. and Microsoft Corp., signaled that the enormous amount of liquidity that has lubricated global stock markets in recent months doesn't appear to be on the verge of evaporating.
"The M&A activity and earnings seem to be holding up better than expected. I think you're going to see more of this," said Bill Dwyer, chief investment officer at MTB Investment Advisors, referring to merger and acquisition deals as well as surprisingly strong profits.
The Dow rose 79.81, or 0.59 percent, to 13,556.53. The blue chips set a new trading high of 13,558.48, having crossed 13,500 for the first time on Thursday.
Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 10.00, or 0.66 percent, to 1,522.75, its highest level in more than six years. The index came within less than 5 points of its record close of 1,527.46, set in March 2000.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 19.07, or 0.75 percent, to 2,558.45.
While the week included a number of mixed finishes for the major indexes, investors seemed unfazed by the mostly modest pullbacks. Bigger consolidations aren't unusual given the string of gains in the last month in particular. For the week, the Dow rose 1.73 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 1.12 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.15 percent.