Wall Street gains after Supreme Court ruling on broadcasters
Shares of CBS jumped 6.2 percent to $62.48 after the US Supreme Court ruled that online TV startup Aereo Inc violates copyright law by using tiny antennas to provide subscribers with broadcast network content via the Internet. Comcast Corp shares rose 1.1 percent to $53.21. The Walt Disney Co, which owns ABC News, gained 1.5 percent to $83.90 and buoyed the Dow.
The S&P 500's gains followed two days of losses, putting the index on track for a decline of 0.2 percent for the week.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 49.38 points or 0.29 percent, to 16,867.51. The S&P 500 gained 9.55 points or 0.49 percent, to 1,959.53. The Nasdaq Composite added 29.40 points or 0.68 percent, to 4,379.76.
Monsanto Co also boosted the S&P 500. The stock climbed 5.1 percent to $126.73 after the world's largest seed company raised the low end of its full-year outlook and said it plans to offer debt to help finance a $10 billion stock buyback.
More merger news also helped the healthcare sector. Medical Action Industries surged 93.5 percent to $13.68 on its heaviest one-day volume ever after Owens & Minor Inc agreed to buy the supplier of disposable medical products for about $208 million. Owens rose 1.5 percent to $35.38.
On the downside, shares of refiners declined after US officials allowed energy companies to export light crude oil, or condensate, after it has been minimally processed.
The major indexes slipped at the open after the economic data, but investors quickly moved on. The US economy contracted in the first quarter at an annual rate of 2.9 percent, the sharpest drop in five years, though activity was affected by a harsh winter, and there are indications that growth has since rebounded. In another negative data point, US orders for durable goods unexpectedly fell 1 percent in May.
European shares in turn fell today, with utility GDF Suez a standout loser, as traders cited fears that violence in Iraq will escalate further as a cue for investors to cash in on last month's equity rally.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended down by 1.1 percent at 1,372.04 points, marking its lowest level in around three weeks.
France's CAC underperformed with a 1.3 percent decline, hit by a 2.3-percent drop in utility GDF Suez after the French state sold a 3.1 percent stake at 20.18 euros per share, the bottom of a range set by bookrunners.
Traders said the conflict in Iraq was providing investors with a reason to cash in on last month's rally, which saw Germany's DAX hit a record of 10,050.98 points while the FTSEurofirst rose to a 6-1/2 year high of 1,399.62 points.
Although the price of oil edged down, traders said events in Iraq remained worrying enough to justify trimming equity positions in case the situation deteriorated.
Militants attacked one of Iraq's largest air bases and seized control of several small oilfields today as US military experts arrived to set up an operations centre to help Iraqi security forces counter a mounting Sunni insurgency.
Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei share average fell to a one-week low as investors took profits from recent rallies, while the government's widely-anticipated growth strategy met a muted market reaction.
Taking its cue from Wall Street's losses overnight, the Nikkei dropped 0.7 percent to 15,266.61, the lowest closing level since June 18. The broader Topix fell 0.6 percent to 1,260.83 while the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 declined 0.6 percent to 11,472.04.