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Molson, Altria hit records on brewer merger talk

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Talk about further consolidation in the brewing industry was helping lift consumer staple stocks on the S&P 500, with the largest gainers ALTRIA (MO.NY), in point terms, and Molson Coors , percentage-wise.

Altria rose 2.8 percent to $44.37 as the maker of Marlboro cigarettes has a near 27 percent stake in SABMiller , the world's second-largest brewer, which larger rival Anheuser-Busch InBev would be interested in buying, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday.

News that AB InBev was talking to banks about financing for a deal that would be worth over $100 billion followed a confirmation from third-largest brewer Heineken on Sunday of an approach from SAB, which the Dutch brewer rebuffed.

As a result, the stock of all three brewers closed at a record in Europe.

Molson Coors, a smaller player with a market cap of about $14.2 billion as of Friday's close, jumped 7.2 percent in afternoon trading to $76.94 after also hitting a record high.

The consumer staples sector of the S&P 500 <.SPLRCS>, down less than 1 percent from a record high set earlier this month, was up 0.4 percent on Monday.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Chris Reese)

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