Washington: US stocks closed mostly higher Tuesday as investors weighed mixed company news and an unexpected slump in home builder confidence.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 23.99 points (0.15 percent) at 16,130.40.
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite climbed 28.76 (0.68 percent) to 4,272.78 , while the S&P 500 index, a broad measure of the markets, advanced 2.13 (0.12 percent) to 1,840.76.
"Equity indices kicked off the abbreviated trading week on a relatively quiet note," analysts at Briefing.com said in a client note. Markets were closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.
The health care sector gained support on news of a $25 billion acquisition deal that has Irish generic drug maker Actavis buying US specialty pharmaceuticals firm Forest Laboratories.
Actavis will pay $89.48 per Forest share, a premium of about 25 percent over Forest`s closing share price on Friday. US-traded Actavis shares surged 5.0 percent to $201.47 and Forest Labs soared 27.5 percent to $91.04.
On the blue-chip Dow, Merck rose 0.5 percent and UnitedHealth Group gained 0.4 percent.
Coca-Cola was the Dow`s biggest laggard, losing 3.8 percent after fourth-quarter revenue missed Wall Street expectations.
Shares of home builders came under pressure after the National Association of Home Builders said its sentiment index tumbled to 46 in February from 56 in January.
NAHB said unusually severe weather conditions in much of the country was largely to blame for the slump in confidence.
Beazer Homes USA dived 2.3 percent, Lennar shed 0.8 percent and Toll Brothers lost 0.6 percent.
Struggling Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry rose 0.9 percent after activist investor Daniel Loeb`s hedge fund Third Point disclosed Friday it had bought a 1.93 percent stake.
IPhone maker Apple rose 0.4 percent helped by press reports that it is in talks to buy electric automaker Tesla Motors. Tesla advanced 2.8 percent.
News that the developer of the popular Candy Crush game, King Digital Entertainment, is seeking a listing on the New York Stock Exchange rippled through tech stocks.
Candy Crush is available on Facebook ( +0.3 percent) and on mobile platforms run by Apple, Google (+0.7 percent) and Amazon (-1.0 percent).
Zynga, which developed Facebook games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars, jumped 5.8 percent.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury dropped to 2.68 percent from 2.75 percent Friday, while the 30-year fell to 3.67 percent from 3.70 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.
First Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 04:00