Wall Street closes mostly higher

US stocks rise at close with surging M&A activity firmly in the spotlight.

US stocks closed mostly higher despite news the West had imposed new sanctions on Russia and after merger talks between the world's two largest gold miners broke down.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lifted 87.28 points, or 0.53%, to 16,448.74.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 6.02 points, or 0.32%, to 1,869.42, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index inched 1.16 points lower, or 0.03%, to 4,074.40.

After opening higher the market dipped comfortably in the red in early afternoon trade, dragged down by news Newmont Mining's merger discussions with Canada's Barrick Gold had irretrievably broken down. The US-based firm saw its stock slump 6% as a result.

The development put a dampener on optimism about M&A action, which had been lifted early in the trading day on news US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer had offered $US100 billion for UK rival AstraZeneca.

Further hurting sentiment was news that Bank of America had suspended its planned share buyback and dividend after making inaccurate capital calculations. Stock in the bank slipped as much as 6% on the news.

So-called momentum stocks, including Amazon and Tesla, also had another soft day, continuing weeks of turbulence.

"Many of these same stocks struggled on Friday and have been on the defensive for most of the month. Their inability to sustain a rebound effort is a negative for investor sentiment as it suggests the retreat in early April may not have fully run its course," Patrick O'Hare of Briefing.com said in relation to momentum stocks.

There was little in the way of economic data, with strong pending home sales numbers -- which climbed 3.4% in March -- the only notable release for the day. Investors reacted cautiously ahead of a big week of releases with first quarter GDP numbers, the monthly jobs report and manufacturing data all on tap later in the week.

Investors are also eagerly awaiting the outcome of the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting, with the Federal Reserve tipped to continue its stimulus taper after a two-day meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In Europe, tensions in Ukraine continued to bubble, with the EU and the US both outlining fresh penalties for Russia amid a breakdown to resolution talks.

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