US STOCKS-Wall St advances in broad rally; S&P 500 near record
* S&P 500 less than 1 percent from record levels
* Hillshire to buy Pinnacle Foods for $6.6 billion
* Ukraine situation remains in focus after referendum
* Dow up 0.6 pct; S&P 500 up 0.8 pct; Nasdaq up 1.5 pct (Updates to midday trading)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, May 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rallied on Monday, with cyclical names driving the Dow to its second all-time high in as many sessions as the S&P 500 moved within striking distance of its own record.
Gains were broad, with eight of the 10 primary S&P 500 sectors in positive territory. Cyclical groups such as materials and industrials ranked among the day's biggest gainers. The only sectors to decline were utilities and telecom, both considered defensive plays. About 77 percent of stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange rose, while more than three-fourths of Nasdaq-listed stocks gained.
The rally came despite a vote by pro-Russian rebels in favor of self-rule in eastern regions of the country in a referendum dismissed by Kiev and Western governments as illegal. The European Union is set to step up pressure on Russia by taking steps to extend sanctions to companies, as well as individuals.
"The vote seemed like a negative, but the violence that many thought would happen didn't, and at this point, no news is good news when it comes to Ukraine," said Channing Smith, co-portfolio manager of the Capital Advisors Growth Fund at Capital Advisors in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Continuación...