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Dow Closes Up 54, Nasdaq Gains 22

Reports that retailers Office Depot and OfficeMax are discussing a merger came after big corporate deals for Heinz and Dell were announced in recent weeks. Some investors are betting that more deals could be on the way as buyers pay premium prices for publicly traded companies.
Associated Press,

NEW YORK (AP) -- Talk of more deal-making sent the stock market higher Tuesday, putting the Dow Jones industrial average within close reach of its all-time high.

Reports that retailers Office Depot and OfficeMax are discussing a merger came after big corporate deals for Heinz and Dell were announced in recent weeks. Some investors are betting that more deals could be on the way as buyers pay premium prices for publicly traded companies.

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The Dow rose 53.91 points to close at 14,035.67. All it would take now is one good day to push the average above 14,164, the record high reached in October 2007.

"It seems that investors are more comfortable with taking risk right now," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. That's despite the $1.2 trillion in automatic federal spending cuts that are scheduled to start March 1 unless Congress and the White House find a way to avoid them. Congress returns from vacation next week.

Previous budget battles in Washington have rattled financial markets. But this time out, many investors seem unfazed by the prospect that Congress won't stop the "sequester" from kicking in. One reason is that the cuts are spread across the board for a decade, instead of all at once.

"I think investors are actually comforted by it," Ablin said. "It's not ideal. But if Congress can't do it when left to their own devices, this is the next best thing."

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In other trading Tuesday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11.15 points to 1,530.94. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index gained 21.56 points to 3,213.59. Google crossed $800 for the first time.

The gains were widely shared, if slight. Nine of the 10 industry groups tracked by the Standard & Poor's 500 index inched higher, led by energy companies. More than two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

Markets were also higher in Europe following news that the German economy is picking up steam. Indexes rose more than 1 percent in Germany and France.

Stocks of office supplies stores jumped following a report in The Wall Street Journal that OfficeMax and Office Depot were considering a deal to merge. The paper said an announcement could come as early as this week.

OfficeMax soared $2.25 to an even $13, a gain of 21 percent, and Office Depot shot up 43 cents to $5.02, a gain of 9 percent. Staples also rose as investors anticipated that more mergers could be on the way.

Analysts cautioned that antitrust regulators could block mergers in the office-supply business. Staples, for instance, tried to buy Office Depot in 1997, but was stopped by the Federal Trade Commission.

Health insurers fell after the release of preliminary government data that suggests rate cuts to Medicare Advantage plans for next year will be steeper than anticipated.

The two largest Medicare Advantage providers, Humana and UnitedHealth, sank. Humana had the biggest loss in the S&P 500, dropping 6 percent, or $4.98, to $73.01. UnitedHealth fell 66 cents to $56.66.

The government says it expects costs per person for Medicare Advantage plans to fall more than 2 percent in 2014. The government uses this figure as a benchmark to determine payments for these privately run versions of the government's health care program for the elderly and disabled.

In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.03 percent from 2 percent late Friday.

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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 22, 2016
  • 1.
    4.0/14
  • 2.
    1.7/6
  • 3.
    1.3/5
  • 4.
    0.9/3
  • 5.
    0.6/2
  • 6.
    0.3/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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