Netflix Makes a Breakthrough, and Icahn Ruffles Feathers at eBay

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Stocks kicked off the week with a bang as the S&P 500 topped its intraday record high as merger activity, and strong economic reports out of Europe, gave markets a lift. The broad-market index finished up 0.6%, closing at 1,847, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average  (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) gained 104 points, or 0.6%, moving less than two percentage points away from its all-time high. The Nasdaq also hit a 14-year high in intraday trading. 

In Germany today, an important indicator of business confidence hit its highest level in two-and-a-half years, as the Ifo business-climate index hit a mark of 111.3, ahead of estimates at 110.6, showing proof that the European recovery continues to be on track

Back stateside, several deals seemed to spark the market's optimism. First, RF Micro Devices agreed to buy TriQuint Semiconductor for $1.6 billion. Both companies soared on the news, up 21% and 26%, respectively. Second, Men's Wearhouse lifted its offer to buy out Jos. A. Bank for $63.50 a share from an original price of $57.50.  The two men's clothing chains have engaged in series of offers and counteroffers to buy each other until Jos. A. Bank said it would purchase Eddie Bauer instead just two weeks ago. The Men's Wearhouse's offer is contingent on Jos. A. Bank dropping its bid to acquire the outdoorwear brand. As a result of the offer, Jos. A. Bank shares jumped 9%, to close at $60.04, while Men's Wearhouse gained 8%. Finally, Netflix  (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) entered into an agreement with Comcast to purchase faster web access for its video streaming. The deal could lead to further changes in the broadband industry, and set a precedent for whether content or service providers will pay for infrastructure upgrades. Netflix shares finished up 3.4%, while Comcast closed nearly flat.

Elsewhere, Carl Icahn was making noise again, accusing eBay's  (NASDAQ: EBAY  ) board of harboring a conflict of interest, and called again for the online auctioneer to spin off the payments processor PayPal. The investing wizard, who also revealed a 2.15% stake in the company today, said board members Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook had competing business interests, and called on them to resign. Icahn also asked investors to vote for two of his handpicked board members in their place. eBay responded by saying that Icahn was "mudslinging," and that it believed PayPal was of greatest shareholder value as a part of eBay. Shares of the online retailer finished up 3.1%, likely in response to news of Icahn's stake.

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