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US stock market hits record highs

The US stock market has crept to another record high after top companies announced another handful of deals.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.8 points, or 0.1%, to close at an all-time high of 1,951.

The Dow Jones industrial average nudged up 18 points, or 0.1%, to 16,943. The Nasdaq gained 14 points, or 0.3%, to 4,336.

Hillshire Brands jumped 5% after Tyson Foods won a bidding war for the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages.

Family Dollar's stock jumped 13% following news that investor Carl Icahn has taken a stake in the discount retailer.

The drug company Merck announced a deal to buy Idenix Pharmaceuticals, boosting Idenix's stock by 229%.

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