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Wall Street: S&P 500 crosses 2,000 for first time early today

U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index above 2,000 for the first time, on signs of more corporate takeovers and stimulus for the European economy.

Burger King Worldwide Inc. added 16 percent after saying its in talks to buy Tim Hortons Inc. and move its headquarters to Canada. InterMune Inc. surged 36 percent after Roche Holding AG purchased the biotechnology company for $8.3 billion. Ann Inc., the owner of the Ann Taylor chain, gained 6 percent after two investors urged the company to put itself up for sale.

The S&P 500 rallied 0.7 percent to a record 2,001.24 at 10:53 a.m. The Dow Jones industrial average added 112.83 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,114.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.7 percent, the highest level since March 2000.

“This number, 2,000, is a pretty significant number from psychological and financial points,” Joe Bell, senior equity analyst at Cincinnati-based Schaeffer’s Investment Research Inc., said in a phone interview. “We’re seeing the continuation of a strong momentum that occurred in July.”

The S&P 500 has risen almost 100 points since its low during trading on Aug. 7, climbing on 9 of 12 days to erase the 3.9 percent drop that began on July 24. The U.S. equity benchmark has advanced for the past three weeks and more than $900 billion has been added to the value of American equities.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index jumped 0.9 percent today as comments by Mario Draghi fanned speculation the European Central Bank is closer to quantitative easing. ECB policy makers “stand ready to adjust our policy stance further” and will use all available instruments to “ensure price stability over the medium term,” Draghi said on Aug. 22.

Burger King, the burger chain that is majority-owned by 3G Capital, added 16 percent to $31.50. Tim Hortons jumped 19 percent to $75.01.

Burger King would create the world’s third-largest fast- food chain by merging with Canada’s bigger seller of coffee and doughnuts, the companies said in a statement. Canada’s corporate tax rate is 26.5 percent, compared with 40 percent in the U.S., according to audit, tax and advisory firm.

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