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US stocks drift sideways in midday trading

NEW YORK (AP) -- The U.S. stock market crept higher in midday trading after companies announced a handful of deals. Major indexes appeared headed to new highs.

Shortly before noon on Monday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was up six points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,955. The S&P ended last week at a record.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 43 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,967. The Nasdaq was up 23 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,345.

Hillshire Brands jumped 5 percent after Tyson Foods raised its bid for the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages. Family Dollar's stock jumped 14 percent following news that investor Carl Icahn has taken a stake in the company.

The drug company Merck announced a deal to buy Idenix Pharmaceuticals, shooting Idenix's stock up 234 percent.

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