Late push leaves stock market mostly higher

NEW YORK - Stocks ended a choppy day mostly higher as investors balanced enthusiasm over a possible merger in the health care industry with bad news from Bank of America.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 87.28 to close at 16,448.74 Monday. The S&P 500 index rose 6.03 to 1,869.43. The Nasdaq edged down 1.16 to 4,074.40.

Pfizer rose 4 percent after renewing its push to buy rival drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Bank of America slid 6 percent after a financial error forced it to suspend plans to increase its dividend and buy back more stock. The bank said the error was related to how it valued securities obtained in its 2009 acquisition of Merrill Lynch. The error didn't affect earnings.

Pending sales of homes up, 1st gain since June

WASHINGTON - More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in March, the first increase since June and a sign that the housing market might pick up after a sluggish start to the year.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 3.4 percent to 97.4 last month. Still, the index remains 7.9 percent below its level a year ago.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases: A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a signed contract and a completed sale.

Microsoft warns about browser security gap

REDMOND, Wash. - Microsoft says a security gap in Internet Explorer could allow an attacker to take complete control of a computer if the user clicks on a malicious link. The vulnerability affects versions 6 through 11 of the Web browser.

Microsoft said Saturday it was aware of "limited, targeted attacks" that tried to exploit the security gap. The company is working on a fix it plans to provide in an update May 13.

In the meantime, Microsoft encourages customers to enable a firewall, apply all software updates and install anti-malware software. The Homeland Security Department recommends that users download a security toolkit from Microsoft or use another browser until an update becomes available.

Go to bit.ly/1fJX5RR to see the Microsoft security advisory.

Panasonic returns to a profit on the weak yen

TOKYO - Panasonic returned to profit after deep losses for the past two fiscal years, as a weak yen and restructuring efforts helped a gradual recovery, and forecast a 16 percent increase in gains for the coming year.

Like other Japanese electronics companies, Panasonic has been struggling amid intense competition from Apple and South Korea's Samsung. Prices of gadgets have been falling, adding to Panasonic's woes.

Stonyfield recalls some cups of organic yogurt

LONDONDERRY, N.H. - Organic yogurt producer Stonyfield is voluntary recalling a small portion of its YoBaby cups that were shipped to some Target stores in South C.arolin and other six states because of concerns about possible coliform bacteria contamination.

The company is recalling 188 six-packs of its 4-ounce YoBaby Peach/Pear cups with the code date of June 5, which were shipped to Target stores in Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The company says the potential problem is not widespread and no other Stonyfield products were affected. No illnesses have been reported.

Developer: New Jersey megamall set for 2016

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The developer of a megamall at the Meadowlands sports complex signed a union agreement Monday to jumpstart work on the long-delayed project. The $2 billion project featuring a waterpark, amusement park, retail and dining is set to be completed in fall 2016.

Wire reports