US stocks : Dow up 0.1 pct
A surge in merger and acquisition activity, with more than $158 billion in deals announced so far in 2013, has given further support to the equity market as it points to healthy valuations and bets on the economic outlook.
Herbalife shares cut earlier gains to rise 1.2 percent to $38.74. Late Thursday, billionaire investor Carl Icahn said in a regulatory filing that he now owns 13 percent of Herbalife and was ready to put it in play.
MeadWestvaco Corp climbed 12.5 percent to $35.65 as the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P index after activist investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management LP said it had bought about 1.6 million shares of the packaging company.
Burger King Worldwide shares gained 4.7 percent to $17.36 after it beat estimates with a 94 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit, thanks to new menu additions.
Oil service stocks declined, weighed by a 5.1 percent drop in shares of Transocean to $56.26, after the rig contractor reported its fleet update and Deutsche Bank cut its rating on the stock to "sell." The PHLX oil service sector lost 1.5 percent.
Slightly more stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange while about 50 percent of Nasdaq shares ended lower. About 6.69 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, above the daily average so far this year of about 6.48 billion shares.
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