Wall Street mixed in late trade

Markets lifted by M&A activity after struggling for direction in morning trade.

United States stocks have kicked off a holiday-shortened week mixed as investors weigh Irish drug maker Actavis's mega deal to acquire Forest Laboratories and disappointing earnings from Coca-Cola.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 23.99 points, or 0.15%, at 16,130.40.

The broad S&P 500 index added 2.13 points, or 0.12%, to 1,840.76, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 28.76 points, or 0.68%, to 4,272.78.

"This morning's $US25 billion ($A27.77 billion) M&A deal of Irish drug-maker Actavis acquiring Forest Labs raises M&A market interest even further," said Fred Dickson of DA Davidson & Co.

"We expect a steady stream of new M&A announcements in coming months, as corporations feel pressured to commit cash sitting on the sidelines to drive future earnings."

Generic drug maker Actavis will pay $89.48 per Forest share to buy the specialty pharmaceutical firm, a premium of about 25% over Forest's share price, the companies announced.

US-traded shares in Dublin-based Actavis shares surged 6.4% to $204.05 and Forest Labs soared 28.8% to $91.96.

Dow member Coca-Cola dropped almost 4% after reporting fourth-quarter revenue that missed Wall Street expectations.

IPhone maker Apple rose 0.8%, helped by press reports it is in talks to buy electric car maker Tesla Motors. Tesla advanced 3.5%.

News the developer behind the popular Candy Crush puzzle game, King Digital Entertainment, is seeking a listing on the New York Stock Exchange rippled through tech stocks.

Candy Crush is available on Facebook (-0.8%) and on mobile platforms run by Apple, Google ( 0.2%) and Amazon (-1.3%).

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury dropped to 2.69% from 2.75% on Friday, while the 30-year fell to 3.68% from 3.70%. Bond prices and yields move inversely.