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(For more market insights, including options activity, click on ; for the Day Ahead newsletter link.reuters.com/mex49s; for the Morning News Call newsletter, link.reuters.com/nex49s) Wall Street rose modestly on Monday after Chinese inflation data eased worries about policy tightening there, while investors were cautious before speeches on the economy by top Federal Reserve officials. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.11 percent at 16,037.7, the S&P 500 was up 0.27 percent at 1,809.98 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.25 percent at 4,072.613.
** MCDONALD'S CORP, $95.98, -0.85 pct
The world's biggest hamburger chain reported weaker-than-expected global sales at established restaurants for November, hurt by a sharp drop in comparable-store sales in the United States.
** SYSCO CORP, $38.65, +12.65 pct
The food distributor said it would buy rival US Foods for about $3.5 billion and assume about $4.7 billion in debt to create a company with about $65 billion in annual revenue.
** HIGHWAY HOLDINGS LIMITED, $4.01, +35.06 pct
The China-based manufacturer of metal, plastic, electric and electronic components said it received three tooling orders from an unnamed U.S. printer company to make plastic components for printers.
** COVIDIEN PLC, $68.32, +0.37 pct
** GIVEN IMAGING LTD, $29.76, +25.84 pct
Medical device maker Covidien will acquire Israeli camera-in-a-pill maker Given Imaging Ltd for $30.00 per share in cash, or a total of $860 million, the companies said on Sunday.
** YRC WORLDWIDE, $9.6, +13.61 pct
The trucking company said the International Brotherhood of Teamsters agreed to vote on a contract that would extend the employment of about 26,000 workers till March 2019. YRC had met with the local union leaders last month for contract negotiations that it said would help with its refinancing.
** NII HOLDINGS INC, $2.435, -7.77 pct
The company, which provides telecom services under the Nextel brand in Latin America, said it would cut more than 1,400 jobs in its market operations and over 25 percent of its workforce at its Virginia headquarters.
** Exxon Mobil Corp, $95.91, +0.27 pct
** Chevron Corp, $123.3, +0.83 pct
** BP Plc, $46.82, +0.04 pct
** Schlumberger Ltd, $87.91, -0.27 pct
** Halliburton Co, $50.25, -0.61 pct
** Baker Hughes Inc, $53.43, -0.74 pct
Oil and gas companies will spend about $723 billion on exploration and production (E&P) in 2014, an increase of 6.1 percent from 2013, Barclays Bank said in a report on Monday.
Barclays forecast an increase of more than 7 percent in E&P spending in North America in 2014, while international spending is expected to increase 6 percent to a record $524 billion.
** PHILLIPS 66, $72.48, +1.75 pct
** TESORO CORP, $58.56, +1.49 pct
** VALERO ENERGY CORP, $47.01, +0.92 pct
** MARATHON PETROLEUM CORP, $87.55, +0.40 pct
** HOLLYFRONTIER CORP $47.24, +0.70 pct
** ALON USA ENERGY INC, $14.94, +4.93 pct
** DELEK US HOLDINGS INC DK.N, $31.48, +4.93 pct
J.P. Morgan Securities raised its price targets on the stock of petroleum refiners citing its long-term forecast of a differential of $10 per barrel in the prices of Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate (WTI).
The brokerage also raised its ratings on Valero, Marathon and Holly's stocks.
Deutsche Bank also raised its rating on Valero's stocks, besides Alon, Delek and Phillips 66' stocks.
The widening spread between U.S. benchmark WTI and European benchmark Brent CL-LCO1=R is restoring high margins for Midwest refiners that refine cheap U.S. crude into gasoline, diesel and other products to be sold at prices linked to the more expensive Brent.
** ROSETTA GENOMICS LTD, $3.35, +10.93 pct
The molecular diagnostics company said the New York State Department of Health granted conditional approval to use the company's Rosetta Kidney Cancer Test on patient samples from the state.
New York is the only state that requires an independent regulatory review process for laboratory-developed tests. With this approval, the company can offer the test, designed to classify the four most common types of kidney tumors, in all 50 U.S. states.
** ADVAXIS INC, $4.039, +12.51 pct
The company said it signed a development and marketing agreement for its experimental cancer treatment, ADXS-HPV, with Global BioPharma Inc, a Taiwanese biotech company.
ADXS-HPV is currently being tested in early and mid-stage trials for cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV), such as cervical cancer, head & neck cancer and anal cancer.
** MCDERMOTT INTERNATIONAL, $8.35, +4.90 pct
CNBC's Mad Money host Jim Cramer said the engineering and construction firm is being more disciplined about going after work that pays well instead of chasing "super low" margin projects.
Cramer also said he expects record offshore spending from oil companies in the coming years.
** EDWARDS LIFESCIENCES CORP, $62.39, -5.88 pct
The company forecast 2014 earnings below analysts' estimates and said that while demand for its Sapien transcatheter valve therapy remained strong worldwide, the company would face new competition in the United States and Europe early in 2014.
** CERAGON NETWORKS LTD, $2.73, +8.33 pct
Needham started its coverage of the Israel-based wireless network technology and services provider with a "strong buy" rating and a price target of $8.
"We believe the confluence of a low valuation, major new product cycle, aggressive cost cutting program and firming end market could provide investors with strong returns," the brokerage said.
** ALPHA NATURAL RESOURCES INC, $7.19, +9.44 pct
Alpha Natural said it will exchange its 50 percent interest in its shale joint venture with Rice Energy for $100 million in cash and $200 million in shares of Rice Energy's IPO.
The two companies entered into the joint venture in 2010 to develop a portion of Alpha's Marcellus natural gas holdings in Greene County, Pennsylvania.
** INFINITY PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $15.77, +5.48 pct
The company said data from an early-stage trial of its experimental blood cancer drug showed the therapy was highly active in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Additionally, data from the study showed that the drug, IPI-145, was active in other blood cancers, including advanced T-cell lymphomas.
** WHITEWAVE FOODS CO, $22.49, +3.26 pct
The dairy products producer said it would buy organic food brand Earthbound Farm from investors including private equity firm Kainos Capital for about $600 million to expand its offerings of organic products.
** GILEAD SCIENCES INC, $74.99, +1.35 pct
U.S. regulators on Friday approved the company's Sovaldi as a potentially easier cure for chronic infection with the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus.
** EZCORP INC,$10.49,-4.72 pct
Sterne Agee lowered the pawn and payday lender's stock to "neutral" from "buy", according to Streetinsider.com.
** LAYNE CHRISTENSEN CO, $15.51, -1.34 pct
The water management, construction and drilling company reported a bigger-than-expected third-quarter loss of 80 cents per share due to weakness at its mineral and geoconstruction services business.
** PHOTOMEDEX INC, $12.138, -5.02 pct
The company said on Friday that it ended a deal with Japan's Ya-Man Ltd, which sold PhotoMedex's products in the country. PhotoMedex said Ya-Man's sales of its products were disappointing in the latest quarter.
** SPHERIX INC, $8.9299, +2.17 pct
A unit of the lifesciences company sued AT&T Inc and AT&T Mobility LLC for infringing its patent on a technology that relates to the location of cells phones on the AT&T network.
** ESSEX PROPERTY TRUST INC, $154, +0.01 pct
** BRE PROPERTIES INC, $58.2, -1.92 pct
Essex Property, a manager of residential properties on the U.S. West Coast, offered to buy BRE Properties for about $4.48 billion in stock and cash.
BRE's stock has risen 11 percent to close at $59.34 on Friday after Bloomberg reported on Dec. 4 that Essex had offered to buy the real estate investment trust for about $5 billion.
** CELGENE CORP, $173.32, +4.14 pct
Cantor Fitzgerald raised its price target on the company's stock to $186 from $171 to reflect higher 2014 and 2015 earnings estimates.
"With Abraxane moving to become a foundation of treatment for pancreatic cancer and Pomalyst hitting the market in the United States; we are forecasting accelerating sales and EPS growth," analyst Mara Goldstein wrote in a note.
** VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC, $49.19, -0.59 pct
** AKAMAI TECHNOLOGIES INC, $44.3992, -1.23 pct
Verizon said it would buy Akamai's smaller rival EdgeCast Networks, whose services help speed up delivery of content over the Internet, to broaden its portfolio of site acceleration services for digital enterprises.
** ACURA PHARMACEUTICALS INC, $1.73, +2.37 pct
The pharma company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agreed to review the results of a failed mid-stage trial of a painkiller made with the company's technology designed to deter abuse. (Compiled by Avik Das in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)