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Stocks break records again as investors return hungry for deals

US stocks broke records again on Tuesday as investors came back from a long weekend hungry for deals.

While Kraft Heinz and Unilever could not complete a proposed 143 billion dollar (£114.6 billion) mega-merger, food and household goods makers rose as investors bet that other deals are coming.

Companies that make packaged foods, everyday household items and other consumer goods are usually seen as stable investments and rarely take centre stage on Wall Street.

But on Tuesday they did just that, as investors felt the failed Kraft Heinz-Unilever sale will be replaced by other deals.

Oreo maker Mondelez and jam maker Smucker made the largest gains.

Stocks built on their gains over the last two hours of trading to close at their highest prices of the day. Income-seeking investors also bought shares of real estate investment trusts and utilities.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 118.95 points, or 0.6%, to 20,743.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 14.22 points, or 0.6%, to 2,365.38.

The Nasdaq composite gained 27.37 points, or 0.5%, to 5,865.95.

All three indexes are at record highs after rising nine times in the last 10 days.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added 10.48 points, or 0.7%, to 1,410.34, also a record.

US markets were closed on Monday for the Presidents' Day holiday.

Kraft Heinz and Unilever both slumped after Kraft withdrew a 143 billion dollar offer to buy its rival.

Unilever said the offer was too low and the companies said Kraft Heinz was giving up its effort.

Unilever, the maker of Hellman's, Lipton and Knorr, declined 3.66 dollars, or 7.5%, to 44.87 dollars. Kraft Heinz, which owns brands including Oscar Mayer, Jell-O and Velveeta, gave up 1.78 dollars, or 1.8%, to 94.87 dollars.

Mondelez, which was once part of Kraft, climbed 5.8 % and J.M. Smucker rose 4.4 % , while cereal makers General Mills and Kellogg gained 3 % and 2.5 % , respectively.

Household goods makers Colgate-Palmolive, Kimberly-Clark and Clorox all jumped.

Wal-Mart rose 2.08 dollars, or 3%, to 71.45 dollars after the company said its online business surged in the fourth quarter and it reported more business in the US during the holiday season.

Wal-Mart recently bought web-based retailers Jet.com and Moosejaw to strengthen its online sales, which have improved over the last two quarters.

Online rival Amazon continued to set record highs as it rose 11.37 dollars, or 1.3%, to 856.44 dollars.

Restaurant Brands International, the company that owns the Burger King and Tim Hortons brands, agreed to buy Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for 1.8 billion dollars.

Last week Popeyes jumped from about 66 dollars to 70 dollars and then fell back again as reports about a possible deal swirled.

Restaurant Brands agreed to pay 79 dollars a share for Popeyes, which climbed 12.61 dollars, or 19.1%, to 78.73 dollars. Restaurant Brands' stock jumped 3.70 dollars, or 6.9%, to 57.60 dollars.

Scripps Networks, the parent of Food Network, Travel Channel and HGTV, climbed after it reported better ratings and stronger ad sales.

Its stock gained 5.46 dollars, or 7.2 % , to 81.50 dollars, while Discovery Communications, the parent of TLC and Animal Planet, picked up 94 cents, or 3.3 % , to 29.62 dollars.

News Corp, which owns the Fox cable channels, rose 25 cents, or 1.9 % , to 13.33 dollars.

Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.43 % from 2.42 % .

AP

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