Summary: Equities were in favor, thanks to deals between drug maker Roche and biotech company InterMune along with plans of a hook up between Burger King and Tim Hortons, leading the S&P to break above 2,000 for the first time. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Biotechs gave investors the right medicine to get the S&P 500 above 2,000 for the first time. The gains were spread across the board, the S&P 500 finishing shy of that milestone, and the Nasdaq settling at 14 plus year highs. Switzerland's Roche is paying more than $8 billion in cash for InterMune. The deal expands Roche's role as the world's leading cancer treatment company into the world of rare or incurable diseases. Shares of the buyer climbed modestly in European trade but look at shares of InterMune, which surged 35 percent. Biotechs like Gilead, Vertex, Regeneron and Celgene all near the top of the gainer's list in the S&P 500. Burger King is looking to gobble up Canada's Tim Hortons. The deal will combine Burger King's lunchtime franchise strength with Hortons' power breakfast. But this deal could be about more than just filling stomachs. Burger King, which is owned by Brazilian investment firm 3G, will move its headquarters to Canada in a controversial tactic aimed at taking advantage of a lower tax rate. That could cause political backlash in the U.S., and the deal could face public outrage by Canadian's not willing to loose a hometown brand again. Investors see it as a win-win though and pushed BK up 19-1/2 percent, U.S. listed shares of Hortons up 18.9 percent. Financials were big gainers. Morgan Stanley has a lot of exposure to Europe and with the European Central Bank expected to push through new measures to stimulate that region's economy - Morgan Stanley's business is likely to get a boost. Shares of the Wall Street firm - among one of the top gainers in the S&P 500. On the economic front, new homes sales fell to their lowest since March and were down for two months in a row. But sales are still up double-digits compared to a year ago, with prices coming down a little and the number of homes up for sale up in July. In Europe, stocks were closed in the U.K. for a bank holiday but the rest of the continent rallied on expectations of more ECB stimulus - overshadowing political turmoil in France.