US STOCKS-Wall St gains, M&A provides a lift
* Indexes have fallen for two straight weeks
* Alcoa to buy RTI International for $1.5 bln
* GM shares rally, to launch buyback program
* Indexes up: Dow 0.4 pct, S&P 500 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.1 pct (Updates to market open)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, March 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were modestly higher on Monday, a day after the S&P 500's biggest drop in about two months, as some billion-dollar deals helped provide a lift to the market.
Wall Street has fallen for two straight weeks, a downtrend that came on speculation that interest rates could rise sooner than anticipated. Friday's weakness was driven by a much stronger-than-expected jobs report, which was seen as possibly pressuring the Federal Reserve to act soon on monetary policy. The central bank had said it would raise rates when the economy was strong enough to support such a move.
While a more robust economy is better for stocks in the long run, investors have been concerned that a rate rise too soon - which would raise borrowing costs for companies and individuals - could dampen growth as the economy's recovery has been slow.
The S&P 500 remains about 2 percent below its record closing high. The Dow is also near record levels, while the Nasdaq is 2.4 percent below its record close, hit in March 2000. Continuación...