US STOCKS-Wall St rallies on M&A blitz and homebuilder data
* Nasdaq closes at 14-year high
* Dollar General offers to buy Family Dollar
* Homebuilders' stocks rise after upbeat economic data
* Dow up 1 pct; S&P 500 up 0.9 pct; Nasdaq up 1 pct (Updates to close)
By Akane Otani
NEW YORK, Aug 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks surged on Monday, with the Nasdaq closing at a 14-year high as increasing homebuilder confidence and hopes for receding tensions in Russia gave investors reasons to make bigger bets on the equity market.
The Nasdaq Composite ended above 4,508, marking the first time since March 31, 2000, that the tech-heavy index closed above 4,500 points. The S&P 500 extended last week's gains, climbing to within 1 percent of an all-time high.
"You've got good economic data, good corporate earnings and M&A deals moving the market forward, so the market is really coming back strong," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist with Voya Investment Management in New York.
"What you're seeing is defensive investors throwing in the towel and saying, 'I gotta be a part of this.'" Continuación...