Stocks soared on Monday, with the S&P 500 closing just short of a record high and the Dow climbing more that 100 points, as investors embraced some merger activity and disregarded lackluster economic data as largely due to winter weather.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended unofficially 103 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 11 points ahead, slipping back after earlier clearing the intraday and closing records set on Jan. 15. The Nasdaq rose 29 points.
Mergers and acquisitions came into play, with RF Micro Devices agreeing to acquire TriQuint Semiconductor for about $1.6 billion, while Men's Wearhouse hiked its cash tender offer for Jos. A. Bank.
"Maybe stocks are not overpriced at these levels if you have big players coming in and still doing deals," said Chris Gaffney, senior market strategist at EverBank.
"Bad weather is going to impact housing and retail sales; once it's spring and the weather is not so bad, we'll see a true reading on the economy," Gaffeny added
Ahead of Wall Street's start, an initial gauge showed that growth in the services sector slowed in February. But traders appeared to ignore that data. "I do think the economy is a lot stronger than the recent data has suggested," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at RW Baird & Co.