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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (BRENDAN McDERMID/REUTERS)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (BRENDAN McDERMID/REUTERS)

Global markets close higher on Internet, health care stocks Add to ...

Global equity markets edged higher on Monday as Wall Street rose on Internet and health care stocks, while declining yields on government debt also initially provided U.S. equities a lift.

Pfizer’s failed bid for AstraZeneca weighed on European shares earlier in the session, with the British drug maker the biggest drag on the FTSE 100 in London and the pan-regional FTSEurofirst 300 index.

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But Pfizer rebounded on the failed bid. At one point, it was the second-largest contributor to gains in the S&P 500 index, after Apple. Pfizer rose 0.5 per cent at $29.28 a share, while AstraZeneca closed down 11.1 per cent in London.

Treasuries at first rallied. Yields on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.51 per cent, near October lows, but later traded higher at almost 2.55 per cent.

Analysts had expected interest rates to rise, but with rates touching seven-month lows, the bond rally has helped U.S. stocks and kept at bay a long-expected correction.

“The big story is the bond market, that is the one thing that stands out like a sore thumb,” said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco.

“If we did not get this big decrease in rates, the [stock] market would’ve corrected,” Massocca said. “It is maybe preventing a decline, of which we are a little overdue in the stock market.”

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 20.55 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 16,511.86. The S&P 500 gained 7.22 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 1,885.08 and the Nasdaq Composite added 35.227 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 4,125.815.

Apple, Google and Facebook led shares higher.

“Equities remain a better choice than bonds or cash this year, but on a near-term basis they might succumb to gravity,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

“The listlessness in the market shows the struggle investors are having right now: valuations are full but not stretched, and there’s a lack of decisive evidence that the economy will kick into higher growth and justify these valuations.”

MSCI’s all-world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 nations, rose 0.11 per cent to 415.22. MSCI’s emerging markets index rose 0.35 per cent.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which last week hit a 6-year high of 1,372.81 points, closed down 0.19 per cent at 1,358.91 points.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes were last down 8/32 in price to yield 2.5463 per cent.

The U.S. dollar fell as low as 101.11 yen, the weakest since early February. It was last at 101.45, down 0.04 per cent.

The euro gained 0.11 per cent on Monday to $1.3707.

U.S. oil prices rose near one-month high as a weak dollar prompted buying, while Brent prices fell as concerns about China’s slowing economy outweighed the impact of low Libyan output.

Brent settled down 38 cents to $109.37 a barrel. U.S. crude rose 59 cents to settle at $102.93.

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