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US stocks mostly higher following new Russia sanctions

US stocks on Monday finished mostly higher as investors absorbed new sanctions on Russia and looked ahead to a busy week of economic news and earnings.

NEW YORK: US stocks on Monday finished mostly higher as investors absorbed new sanctions on Russia and looked ahead to a busy week of economic news and earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 87.28 points (0.53 per cent) to 16,448.74.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 6.03 points (0.32 per cent) at 1,869.43, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 1.16 points (0.03 per cent) to 4,074.40.

Analysts said trading volume was light kicking off a week that includes a Federal Reserve monetary policy announcement Wednesday and a monthly jobs report Friday.

Stocks largely recovered from a mid-afternoon swoon, but investors were still cautious after the US and Europe slapped new sanctions on Russia for failing to stop soaring tensions in Ukraine.

"Some of the economic news is not bad, but there are a lot of concerns," said Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management.

Besides Russia, Blicksilver cited continued weakness of many leading technology stocks as well as an announcement by Bank of America that it was suspending its dividend and share repurchase program after discovering an error in calculating its capital strength.

BofA slumped 6.3 per cent after the Federal Reserve ordered a halt to its plans to increase its dividend and share buyback. BofA said it would resubmit its capital data and expected that it would have to cut the distributions.

Investors reacted enthusiastically to Pfizer's announcement that it hopes to acquire British drug giant AstraZeneca for about $100 billion. AstraZeneca has so far rebuffed a deal, which would combine the two companies' drug pipelines and slash Pfizer's tax rate.

Dow member Pfizer advanced 4.2 percent while US-traded shares of AstraZeneca bolted 12.2 per cent higher.

General Electric gained 0.7 per cent as chief executive Jeffrey Immelt met with French President Francois Hollande to try to win approval for a potential deal to buy Alstom's energy business. French officials have expressed concerns about the loss of jobs and corporate clout if the transaction occurs.

Several trendy technology stocks suffered down days, including Amazon (-2.4 per cent), Facebook (-2.7 per cent) and Netflix (-2.4 per cent).

But Apple gained 3.9 per cent, along with Dow components Microsoft (+2.4 per cent) and IBM and Procter & Gamble (both up 1.9 per cent).

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.68 per cent from 2.67 per cent Friday, while the 30-year held steady at 3.46 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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