J.C. Penney rose the most in six months after an analyst at ISI Group said the retailer could turn its top 300 stores into a real estate investment trust-like entity that would sublet space to other brands. Shares closed at $16.44, up more than 6 percent. A REIT operating under a separate name could be valued about $40 a share, Omar Saad, an analyst at ISI Group in New York, wrote in a note Monday.

Apple poised to boost dividend
Apple Inc. is poised to boost its dividend by more than half, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, providing investors hit by a share slump with one of the highest yields in the U.S. technology industry. Apple will probably lift its quarterly dividend 56 percent to $4.14 a share, for an annual payout of $15.7 billion, according to the average estimate from six analysts.

Builder confidence dips unexpectedly

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders unexpectedly fell for a second month in March, a sign the residential real-estate market will take time to strengthen. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence dropped by 2 points to 44 this month. Readings below 50 mean more respondents said conditions were poor.

CenturyLink plans big bond offer

CenturyLink Inc. is offering $500 million of seven-year notes in its first sale in a year, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction. The bonds are set to be sold as soon as Tuesday.

Goldman, Morgan Stanley up S&P forecasts
The two biggest U.S. equity bears in 2012 see the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rising more than 12 percent this year to at least 1,600. Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s chief U.S. equity strategist, David Kostin, raised his target for the benchmark stocks gauge by 3.2 percent to 1,625 from 1,575. Adam Parker of Morgan Stanley boosted his estimate by 12 percent to 1,600 from 1,434.

Panasonic mulls exit from plasma TV
Panasonic Corp. is considering ending its production of plasma TV panels as part of a downsizing of its deficit-ridden television business, it was learned Monday. The struggling home electronics maker is making arrangements to end shipment of plasma panels for domestic television production sometime in fiscal 2014, informed sources said.

Big Airbus order from Indonesia
Airbus said Monday that it had received a record order for $24 billion worth of new single-aisle jets from the Indonesian low-cost airline Lion Air. The firm order for 234 of the company’s popular A320- and A321-series jets represents the largest single order of Airbus jets, both by value and number of planes.