The benchmark for the Nasdaq exchange is led by Apple, the country's largest listed company by market value, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Monday's gains came on a strong day for US equities following a stream of merger announcements, including the $16.7 billion acquisition of Freescale Semiconductor by NXP Semiconductor, in a deal that links two Nasdaq companies. Unlike in 2000, many leading Nasdaq companies are now profitable and many are in lucrative emerging industries, such as mobile technology and social networking.
The US and Russian foreign ministers expressed cautious optimism after holding talks in Geneva Monday to end fighting in Ukraine, where the UN says more than 6,000 people have died in less than a year. The meeting between John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov in Geneva was just one of several attempts at mediation on the conflict Monday, as high-stakes talks to resolve a bitter gas dispute between Kiev and Moscow were also due in Brussels. Speaking separately after their 80-minute meeting, Kerry and Lavrov both cautiously said a February 15 ceasefire was on the right track, despite repeated breaches of the peace deal that have left hundreds dead.