Flurry of biotechnology deals boost US stock markets

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(Close): US stocks rose on Monday as deals in the biotechnology sector boosted investor sentiment on Wall Street.

A unit of UnitedHealth said it would buy pharmacy benefit manager Catamaran in a deal worth about $12.8bn (£8.6bn).

Shares in Catamaran soared 24%, while UnitedHealth was 2.5% higher.

The Dow Jones closed up 1.5% at 17,976, while the broader S&P 500 index added 1.2% to 2,086. The technology-focused Nasdaq index rose 1.1% to 4,947.

Energy and bank shares were also among the top performers.

Ireland's Nasdaq-listed Horizon Pharma said it would buy US drugmaker Hyperion Therapeutics for about $1.1bn. Shares in the two companies rose 18% and 7.5% respectively.

Meanwhile, Zimmer Holdings was 0.9% higher at $118.59 after the medical device maker won EU approval for its proposed $13.4bn purchase of rival Biomet. It agreed to sell three businesses in Europe to allay competition concerns.

However, amongst the fallers was Mylan, which slid 42.6% to $60 after the generic drugmaker said shareholder Abbott Laboratories planned to sell about a third of its stake.

Sentiment was also helped by the March report from the National Association for Business Economics. It forecast more hiring, lower rates of unemployment and inflation, as well as modest growth in share prices.