5-19-14 5:03 PM EDT | Email Article

By Anora Mahmudova, MarketWatch


NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks ended Monday's thinly traded session higher with small-cap and tech companies leading the gains. Trading volumes on Wall Street were the third-lowest this year, and analysts noted the absence of 'bad news' sent stocks higher.


Gains were muted in light of mixed deal news. AT&T agreed to buy DirecTV, but AstraZeneca rejected Pfizer Inc.'s final bid.


The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) closed 35.23 points, or 0.9%, higher at 4,125.82. The biggest component on the index, Apple Inc. (AAPL), gained 1.2% to $604.59. The S&P 500 index (SPX) added 7.22 points, or 0.4%, to 1,885.08. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 20.55 points, or 0.1%, to 16,511.86.


The Russell 2000 (RUT) index of small stocks added 11.52 points, or 1%, to 1,114.43.


Read the recap of MarketWatch's live blog of today's stock-market action.


"There is a news vacuum today, so markets are edging higher as there is nothing to hold them back," says Channing Smith, managing director at Capital Advisors.


"Traders will be watching key technical levels at this point and the 10-year Treasury yields. If the 10-year note yields fall below the 2.46% level, then we might see weakness in equities," he added.


In the absence of economic news, investors turned their attention to two Fed speakers on Monday.


Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams said it will likely be more than a year before the central bank begins raising interest rates. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher lamented the performance of Congress, which he said was acting like a brake on growth that the Fed cannot overcome with its aggressive stimulus policies. Recap of the live blog of Fed talk with Fisher, Williams and Bernanke.


In corporate news, Urban Outfitters, Inc. (URBN) shares fell 4% in extended-hours trading after the retailer narrowly missed estimates for its first-quarter earnings.


Campbell Soup (CPB) shares stumbled 2.4% as weak soup sales led to the company cutting its full-year forecast.


Shares of AT&T (T) fell 1% after the telecom giant agreed to buy satellite-television provider DirecTV (TICKER:DTV) in a stock-and-cash deal worth $67.1 billion, including debt. DirecTV shares also fell 1.8%.


Google Inc.'s (GOOG) YouTube unit has reached a deal to buy Twitch, a privately held video-streaming service for gamers, for more than $1 billion, according to a report Sunday in Variety, which cited "sources familiar with the pact." Shares in Google rose 1.6%.


Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares rose 1.2% to $604.59 as Apple and Google agreed to dismiss all outstanding patent disputes although there is no cross-licensing agreement as part of the deal.


U.S.-listed shares of AstraZeneca (AZN) dropped 12% after the drug maker again rebuffed Pfizer's "final" offer of GBP55 a share ($89.96) saying it undervalues the company. The offer values AstraZeneca at about $120 billion, while the previous offer of GBP50-a-share put the deal at about $106 billion. Pfizer (PFE) shares were up 0.6%.


Who can afford AstraZeneca's asking price? Not many


Asian market fall, gold recaptures the $1,300 level


Asian shares fell, with Shanghai stocks hit following a report that China's property prices are showing further signs of a slowdown amid government curbs. In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 closed lower.


Among commodities, gold futures pared earlier gains (GCM4) and fell back below the $1,300-an-ounce level. Crude oil futures (CLM4) extended their gains from last week. The dollar was stuck in tight ranges against major rivals on Monday as investors struggled to get a better sense of how the Fed views the current pace of economic growth


More news from MarketWatch:


Only a 'black swan' will bring back stock volatility


Stocks are telling you a bear market is coming


Stock market's biggest risk is scared consumers

-Anora Mahmudova; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com


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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

05-19-14 1703ET

Copyright (c) 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Copyright 2014 MarketWatch
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