The Dow Approaches Another Record, and Rumors Swirl Around Amazon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

Despite a slow start, stocks climbed over the course of the session to finish at record levels,notching small gains on the day. The S&P 500 tacked on 0.2% to finish at an all-time closing high of 1,927.88, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average  (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) edged up 15 points, or 0.1%, finishing just six points short of its record closing high. The Nasdaq gained 0.4% amidst a strong performance from the semiconductor sector. 

Economic reports were mixed today, with the May ISM services index beating expectations, coming in at 56.3 against estimates of 55.5, and improving April's reading at 55.2. It was the fastest growth in the service sector in nine months, showing the economy picking up steam after a sluggish winter. Elsewhere, the ADP employment report showed 179,000 jobs were added last month, less than the 200,000 the market had expected. The ADP report is seen as a precursor of the official report from the Labor Department, which comes out on Friday, and economists are expecting the agency to report 220,000 jobs were added last month, following 288,000 new jobs in April. Finally, productivity fell sharply in the first quarter, down 3.2%, while unit labor costs 5.7%. Bad weather seemed to be the primary cause of the slowdown.

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After hours, Amazon.com  (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) was generating speculation after it announced a mystery event on June 18, posting an invitation and a video on its website. Based on the video, the online behemoth seems ready to unveil a long-awaited smartphone, and considering the recent expansion of its Fire franchise into TV from tablets, a smartphone release would not be surprising, especially as the company stakes its future further on media consumption. The video appears to show that the device has a 3-D display that would allow 3-D gesture tracking with actors making comments such as, "very real life," and "I've never seen anything like that." Amazon shares were virtually unchanged after hours, as it's too soon to draw conclusions about its new product.

Also after hours, shares of Sprint  (NYSE: S  ) and T-Mobile  (NYSE: TMUS  )  were both heading north on reports that the two were close to an agreement on a merger. Like the Amazon smartphone, a merger between the nation's Nos. 3 and 4 wireless outlets has been floated around the media before, and with Verizon and AT&T controlling the vast majority of the wireless market, an alliance seems natural. According to early rumors, Sprint would pay near $40 a share for T-Mobile, which closed at $34.28 today and gained 3% after hours. Consolidation in the telecom industry has been fast-paced in recent years, most recently with AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV, and, last year, T-Mobile also acquired MetroPCS. With this story just breaking, T-Mobile shares could easily move higher as investors anticipate that the merger will go through. Sprint shares were up 4% after hours. 

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