Wall Street takes a tiny breather after the Dow and S&P hit new records but more M&A action keeps things interesting.
It's no surprise that after a nice run up in the markets, investors decided to engage in some good ol' profit taking.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) closed 10 points lower -- in the final few seconds of trading the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) popped into positive territory gaining half a point and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) was down less than a point.
This quarter is already the largest for mergers and acquisitions since the heady days of 2007 and here's what's going on this merger Monday.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%General Electric (GE) overcame its last hurdle to buy the energy assets of France's Alstom with which it will be joining in a series of joint ventures. GE's stock was one of the biggest laggards on the Dow, falling 1 percent.
Integrys Energy (TEG) was one of the day's biggest gainers rallying on news Wisconsin Energy (WEC) would pay $5.7 billion to acquire the company. Integrys was up 12 percent while Wisconsin Energy was down 3.5 percent.
Central Garden & Pet Co. (CENT) also had a good day up 6.5 percent on reports of a $1.1 billion buyout offer from Harbinger Group (HRG). And both Oracle (ORCL) and Micros Systems (MCRS) rose as Oracle agreed to acquire Micros for $5.3 billion. Oracle ended higher by half a percent while Micros was up more than 3 percent.
Lululemon Athletica (LULU) bounced back a bit up 2.5 percent on reports the company's founder who gave up his chairman seat last month is pushing for more influence. The stock has been hurt by product problems and management concerns. It is down 30 percent since the beginning of this year.
Housing stocks also got a boost from new data showing existing home sales rose 4.9 percent last May. Beazer Homes USA (BZH) was up 3 percent. PulteGroup (PHM) gained more than 1 percent and Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV) and Toll Brothers (TOL) were also higher.
AbbVie (ABBV) was also in the green up less than 1 percent after lifting its earnings guidance. But chemical company FMC Corp. (FMC) was one of the day's biggest losers down almost 5 percent after lowering its earnings guidance for the second quarter and full year.
And both Allergan (AGN) and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX) traded lower after Allergan rejected Valeant's $53 billion bid saying it was "grossly inadequate."
-Produced by Karina Huber.
What to Watch Tuesday:
Standard & Poor's releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for April at 9 a.m. Eastern time.
At 10 a.m., the Commerce Department releases new home sales for May, and the Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for June.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:
14 Best Tips That Financial Planners Give to Their Besties
After Market: Record-Stopping Session as Stocks End Mixed
For small costs that can quickly add up over time -- like that daily latte habit or weekly apps and music purchases -- consider buying yourself a gift card and load it with a set, budgeted amount at the start of each month. Then go ahead and enjoy those treats until your card runs out. "This makes it easy to keep track of small, daily expenditures," says Natalie Taylor. "Plus, it feels more special and guilt-free when you're paying with a gift card."
If you're just starting to share in financial decisions with a significant other, Stephany Kirkpatrick suggests keeping a "slush fund" bank account into which you each set aside money every month to use for one or two joint expenses. "You can use this to pay for date nights, a vacation or a bigger purchase you want to make together," she suggests. "It helps take away the burden of wondering who is going to pay for certain things -- and it's a great way to get your feet wet when it comes to joint finances."
After a few months, you can graduate to contributing enough to the account to cover larger household bills if you live together, and before you both know it, the concept of combining your finances probably won't be as overwhelming.
"So many people get talked into buying extended warranties on electronics or insurance on their cell phones," says Tom Gilmour, who tells his friends to skip these purchases and use that money to buy term life insurance and disability insurance instead.
David Blaylock agrees. "Life and disability insurance are often overlooked and shouldn't be," he says. "For most of us, the greatest asset we have is our ability to earn income. If we become sick (or die) and we lose that ability, it can be financially devastating. I see clients all the time who have these benefits available to them through their employers and simply haven't signed up for them."
"Jot down all of the things under $30 that are little, feel-good splurges -- and when you need to treat yourself or someone special, pull from this list," Kirkpatrick says. "Whether it's frozen yogurt, an impromptu yoga class, a few copies of recent New York Times best sellers or a nice bottle of wine, $30 can give you the happiness boost you need -- without derailing progress you've made on your financial goals."
"I recommend prenups and postnups," says Brandie Farnam. "If you think about it, people are most inclined to be fair and equitable when things are happy and stable in a relationship -- not when you're fighting for things while parting ways." She notes stay-at-home moms need to protect themselves financially if they opt to leave the workforce for an extended period to raise a family.
Thinking of having a baby and trying to decide whether you can afford for one parent to scale back at work or quit altogether? Farnam tells her friends to completely bank the income they're thinking of dropping (or reducing) for six months -- and rely on the other salary to cover expenses during that period. "This will give you a sense of how it'll feel before you make such a huge, potentially irreversible [career] decision," she says.
Speaking of kids, Gilmour tells all of his new-parent friends to consider setting up a 529 plan -- even if they can't afford to start saving for college themselves. "You can use it to deposit monetary gifts received from grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends."
Taylor tells all of her friends to consider opening a "fun account," so they can splurge without guilt every once in a while. Taylor and her husband used their own fun account to buy a used elliptical machine, pay for a private Pilates trainer and go on a post-maternity wardrobe shopping spree. If it works for your budget, "Dedicate a certain percentage of your income and all money windfalls, like bonuses, to put into this account," Taylor suggests. "10 percent is a great place to start."
You may be able to accomplish the same idea the old-school way too. "One of my friends was able to treat a few of us to a poolside cabana when we were on vacation because she'd been putting small bills into a 'fun jar' for guilt-free splurges just like that," Farnam says.
Don't want to hire an investment adviser or don't have the confidence to manage your own portfolio? "Consider using an all-in-one asset allocation fund to help ensure you always have a diversified asset allocation," says Elizabeth Sklaver. "When buying investments, be sure to check your firm's [no-transaction-fee]/commission-free list, so you're not paying fees you may have avoided. If you are contributing regularly and paying a fee for each trade, it may be worth it to switch firms."
Staying home to raise the kids? If possible, you should still be saving for your golden years, notes Kirkpatrick. "I tell my girlfriends that if they choose to leave their jobs, they should maximize a Spousal IRA or Spousal Roth IRA," she says. "This way, retirement savings is accumulating in their name, in addition to what their spouse saves for the future."
Kirkpatrick says she's amazed by the number of people who skip the simple step of filling out a beneficiary form for their retirement plan or life insurance. "Since a beneficiary form is a substitute for a will, this is a critical document that allows money to transfer to a beneficiary directly -- without the overhead or complexities of probate," she says. This can become especially important, if you aren't married or if you want someone other than your spouse to inherit your money. "Just remember that if something changes -- say, you get married or divorced -- you need to update paperwork everywhere."
Remember to donate some of your hard-earned money. "People who set aside money to support various organizations live richer lives," Blaylock says. Choose an amount you can afford to donate each year -- and consistently give it away. "I hear people say that they will give when they are older," he says. "But I find that those who don't get into the habit of giving early on rarely become charitable."
Yes, your eyes may glaze over when you're reading the fine print. But really understanding what's offered to you can help you take advantage of any "free money," like a 401(k) matching program, health savings account, gym discount or a pretax commuter benefit, says Gilmour. "Also, if you donate to charity," he says, "many large companies are willing to match your gift, which helps your dollar go even further."
Plannerssay they are shocked by how few people have a budget. Blaylock says that you should start by asking yourself these key questions: How much are your monthly fixed expenses? How much are your variable or flex expenses each month? How much is your net income? Armed with the answers, you can then sit down to map out a monthly budget that can help keep you on track for your financial goals.