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Earnings and corporate deals lift stocks

NEW YORK - Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

NEW YORK - Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

Allergan surged after Valeant Pharmaceuticals said it had teamed up with activist investor Bill Ackman to make a bid for the Botox maker. Netflix and Harley-Davidson rose sharply after reporting earnings that beat analysts' expectations.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.66 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,879.55. The six consecutive gains in the index mark the longest winning streak since September.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 65.12 points, or 0.40 percent, to 16,514.37. The Nasdaq composite gained 39.91 points, or 0.97 percent, to 4,161.46.

Allergan rose the most in the S&P 500, climbing $21.65, or 15.2 percent, to $163.65. Health care stocks rose 1.04 percent, the biggest gain of the 10 sectors that make up the index.

There was also deal news in the health-care industry from Europe. Swiss pharmaceutical maker Novartis AG unveiled a series of multibillion-dollar deals with Britain's GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C. and the United States' Eli Lilly & Co.

The announcements helped drive some speculative buying.

The consumer discretionary sector had the second-biggest gain Tuesday after some good earnings reports.

Harley-Davidson, which has a manufacturing plant near York, Pa., jumped $4.33, or 6.4 percent, to $71.87 after reporting that its first-quarter earnings rose nearly 19 percent. Motorcycle sales grew 5.8 percent worldwide and efficiency efforts took hold.

Netflix climbed $24.41, or 7 percent, to $372.90 after the online video streaming service said late Monday that its first-quarter earnings soared. Another season of the popular political drama House of Cards helped attract an additional 2.25 million subscribers.

Investors even found something to like in a weak report on home sales.

Sales of existing U.S. homes slipped in March to their lowest level since July 2012 as rising prices and a tight supply of available homes discouraged many would-be buyers. The National Association of Realtors says sales edged down 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million.

While it was the seventh drop in the last eight months, the decline was less than economists had forecast.

Among other stocks making big moves, Facebook rose $1.79, or 2.9 percent, to $63.03. Analysts at Credit Suisse raised their target price for the stock because they believe that the social media company will be able to boost its revenue with new services.