After Market: Modest Gains Stretch S&P 500 Winning Streak

The S&P 500 is now riding its longest winning streak in six months. Stocks posted modest gains, helped by generally upbeat earnings and some merger news.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 40 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 7, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 26 points. The S&P and Nasdaq extended their winning streaks to five sessions.

Pfizer (PFE) gained more than 2 percent on a British newspaper report that it's interested in buying rival drugmaker AstraZeneca (AZN) in a deal that could be worth more than $100 billion. AstraZeneca jumped 9 percent.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%That helped lift others in drug sector: Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) rose 2 percent and Merck (MRK) rose more than 1 percent.

Also on the merger front, Newmont Mining (NEM) and Barrick Gold (ABX) have run into problems on the deal they've been working on. That sent Newmont 6 percent higher, but Barrick fell 4 percent, and investors chipped away at other mining stock too. Allied Nevada Gold (ANV) fell 4 percent. Yamana (AUY) and Hecla Mining (HL) both lost about 2 percent.

On the earnings front, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) jumped 12 percent. It posted a surprise profit late Thursday.

Also beating the Street:
  • Halliburton (HAL) rose more than 3 percent. Rival oilfield services company Baker Hughes (BHI) also gained 3 percent.
  • Hasbro (HAL) added 2 percent.
  • SunTrust (STI) gained 1.5 percent.
Elsewhere, Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) was the day's big winner, jumping 39 percent. It received positive guidance from the Food and Drug Administration to file for approval of its drug to treat muscular dystrophy.

Micron Technology (MU) rose 6 percent. The stock has more than doubled over the past year, and Drexel Hamilton thinks it will double again.

Tesla Motors (TSLA) gained 3 percent on reports that its set to make deliveries to China. Ford Motor (F) was little changed following reports that Alan Mulally is about to step down as CEO and be replaced by COO Mark Fields.

Finally, Moneygram (MGI) tumbled 13.5 percent after Walmart Stores (WMT) said last week it would enter the money transfer business.

What to Watch Tuesday:
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency release its home price index for February at 9 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The National Association of Realtors reports existing home sales for March at 10 a.m.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements: -Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

13 Tips for the Best Hotel Rates
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After Market: Modest Gains Stretch S&P 500 Winning Streak
Before you book a room, call the hotel itself (the specific location, not the chain's 800 number) during business hours to see if the hotel will match or beat rates you've found online. Sometimes they'll throw in extras such as free Wi-Fi, breakfast or late checkout. This gives you maximum flexibility because you usually don't have to pay in advance, plus you won't need to deal with a third party if something goes wrong or you come across a cheaper alternative.  
Some hotels charge a resort fee that may not be included in an online quote. Others charge for Wi-Fi, breakfast or use of the gym. In a city center, parking can cost $35 or more a day. To avoid unpleasant surprises, always ask about which fees are included and how much they'll cost you.
Many small hotels don't want to pay search site commissions and therefore they don't participate. When you call them, you're often talking to an owner or manager who is empowered to offer a discount. TripAdvisor (TRIP) is a good site to use to identify these small hotels, but you should go directly to the hotel to make reservations.
If you're traveling with a family or planning a longer stay, look into renting an apartment or house. You can find listings at HomeAwayFlipKey and VRBO, among other services. Many of these lodgings charge a cleaning fee, so keep that in mind when you're calculating total costs. But with a kitchen you may save on food because you can cook some meals.
On a road trip, pick up the coupon books at rest stops and convenience stores. Those coupons, offered by the owners of individual franchises, often beat the national deals advertised on the chains' websites.
This doesn't work at the height of the tourist season, but often times it will get you the best deal at hotels that start the day with plenty of empty rooms. If you just show up, you can also see the room before you commit. Several apps, including Hotel Tonight, cater to travelers looking for a room on the fly.
If you book with a service that requires payment in advance, read all the fine print. And make sure you know how much it will cost if you have to cancel.
In Europe particularly, tourist offices offer room-finding services for same-day rooms. Even in the United States, some cities, such as Newport, R.I., get a list every morning from local hotels of rooms they want to sell for that night. "Think of this as an old-fashion version of, only a real-life person finds the accommodations that is right for you ... at the right price," says Andrea McHugh, marketing and communications manager of Discover Newport.
Sites such as allow you to find out what other travelers have paid at HotWire and Priceline and can sometimes identify the "mystery" hotels that keep their name and location secret until you book.
Groupon (GRPN), LivingSocial and other deal-of-the-day services offer travel deals, but most of the time you must act quickly to snag one.
If you're traveling to just one destination, look for a deal that includes hotel, airfare and car rental, which may be cheaper than buying these components individually.
Many credit cards offer points equivalent to several nights' hotel stays just for signing up, plus you can earn points when you use your new credit cards. "Using hotel points for free stays is the best deal in the travel industry," says Kevin Barry, who publishes Frugal Mouse, a website about traveling to Disney parks. "Last fall I went on a two-week vacation to Europe. ... One hundred percent of our hotel stays were covered by hotel points, and we stayed at very nice locations."
That means fall in Florida and summer in the Caribbean, winter in Europe, weekends near convention areas and weekdays in resort areas.
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