While you were sleeping: Apple, Athenahealth climb

Wall Street gained as shares of Apple rose to a record, while fresh corporate deals also boosted sentiment.

Also climbing were the US dollar and oil prices.

Shares of Athenahealth soared, up 15.5 percent to US$145.57 as of 3.11pm in New York, after activist investor Elliott Management offered to buy the medical company for US$160 a share.

George Hill, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets in New York, said the offer price is low and expects it will ultimately be rejected by the board, Bloomberg reported.

“An offer from Elliott could also be an attempt to draw out other bidders for ATHN and to push a sale to a strategic acquirer as Elliott notes that other parties have also expressed interest in ATHN,” he said in a note to clients, according to Bloomberg.

Wall Street rose. In 2.52pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.8 percent. In 2.37pm trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.8 percent.

The Dow moved higher as gains in shares of Caterpillar and those of Exxon Mobil, recently up 2.8 percent and 2.2 percent respectively, outweighed declines in shares of Walmart and those of UnitedHealth Group, recently down 2.1 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.

Shares of Apple rose, gaining for the sixth straight session and trading 0.8 percent higher as 2.53pm in New York. The stock rose as high as a record US$187.67 earlier in the day. Last Friday, the company posted better-than-expected quarterly sales while Warren Buffett said he boosted his stake in the company.

“Buffet took such an outsized position in Apple, which was reassuring to a lot of people,” Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors in Chicago, told Reuters.

“Psychologically, people went into last week a little skeptical, but I think we saw a thawing of that late last week and over the weekend,” Ablin noted.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.6 percent gain from the previous close. France’s CAC 40 Index added 0.3 percent, while Germany’s DAX index rallied 1 percent.

UK financial markets were closed.

In other deal news, shares of Nestle closed 1.6 percent stronger in Zurich after it agreed to pay Starbucks about US$7.15 billion for the rights to market Starbucks consumer and foodservice products globally, outside of the company’s coffee shops.

“This transaction is a significant step for our coffee business, Nestlé’s largest high-growth category,” Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestlé, said in a statement. "With Starbucks, Nescafé and Nespresso we bring together three iconic brands in the world of coffee."

Shares of Starbucks traded 0.4 percent weaker in New York as of 3pm.

"This global coffee alliance will bring the Starbucks experience to the homes of millions more around the world through the reach and reputation of Nestlé,” Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, said in the statement.