By ALEX VEIGA
Encouraging signals from central bankers helped lift U.S. stocks in morning trading Monday, propelling the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) above 2,000 points for the first time. Investors shrugged off lackluster data on new home sales and focused instead on the latest round of corporate deals. Burger King soared on news it was in talks to buy Tim Hortons of Canada.
Keeping Score: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,001 as of 12:05 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) added 109 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,110. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 28 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,566.
Record Territory: The S&P 500, a widely followed barometer of the U.S. stock market, crossed above 2,000 in the first hour of trading Monday.
"Closing above that level is going to be the big test," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade (AMTD). "The S&P 500 overall is a sea of green, which is a great thing to see for those who are bullish."
Bull Run: Despite lingering geopolitical concerns from conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, investors have been encouraged this summer by strong corporate earnings and steady job gains. The question is whether all the confidence on Wall Street is being echoed on Main Street. That's one reason investors will be particularly interested in the latest government data on durable goods, due out Tuesday.
"Are people who are getting employed actually spending on bigger-ticket items? That becomes the big test," Kinahan said.
Housing Stumble: The Commerce Department said sales of new homes slid 2.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 412,000. That's down from an upwardly revised June rate. New home sales have struggled to gain traction this year, held back by modest wage growth, a bump in mortgage rates and rising home prices. Several homebuilder stocks turned lower after the report came out at 10 a.m. Eastern time, led by Taylor Morrison Home (TMHC) with a decline of 26 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $20.16.
Deal Boost: Shares in InterMune (ITMN) vaulted 35.5 percent following news that the California biotech company agreed to sell itself to Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche for $8.3 billion. The deal was announced Sunday. Roche added $19.09 to $72.89.
Under Pressure: A big shareholder in Ann (ANN), the parent company of Ann Taylor and Loft clothing chains, is putting public pressure on management to explore selling the company. The campaign drove Ann shares up $2.19, or 5.8 percent, to $39.71.
Doughnut King?: Burger King (BKW) rose $5.01, or 18.5 percent, to $32.14 on news the fast-food chain is in talks to acquire doughnut chain Tim Hortons (THI) and create a new holding company headquartered in Canada, a move that could shave its tax bill.
Sector Watch: Sector Watch: All 10 sectors in the S&P 500 rose, with financials leading the pack. Morgan Stanley (MS) rose the most in the index, adding $1.01, or 3 percent, to $34.48. Cablevision Systems (CVC) fell the most, losing 34 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $18.
Overseas Markets: Germany's DAX advanced 1.6 percent, while France's CAC 40 rose 1.9 percent. British markets were closed for a holiday. Markets in Asia were mixed, with Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225, South Korea's Kospi and Hong Kong's Hang Seng each notching gains Monday, while China's Shanghai Composite index and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 each declined.
Bonds and Commodities: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.39 percent from 2.40 percent late Friday. Benchmark U.S. crude for October delivery fell 31 cents to $93.65 a barrel in New York.
-AP business writer Youkyoung Lee contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea.
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