* Dell says two new proposals could be superior to take-private deal
* Apollo Group beats estimates, shares jump
* S&P 500 2 points away from closing high record
* Indexes up: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.4 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - The Dow industrials hit yet another record high and the S&P 500 edged closer to its highest ever on Monday after negotiators reached a deal to keep Cyprus afloat with a financial bailout and avert the country's possible exit from the euro zone.
The deal between Cyprus and the heads of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will spare the Mediterranean island a likely banking collapse by winding down the largely state-owned Popular Bank of Cyprus and shifting deposits below 100,000 euros to the Bank of Cyprus to create a "good bank."
"The problems in Cyprus had held the market back a little bit, so I guess there will be some relief. This takes away one of the hurdles for moving higher," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The Dow climbed above 14,547, its highest ever, while the S&P was within two points of its closing record of 1,565.15 set in October 2007.
Meckler said a record high on the S&P amid a low interest-rate environment would likely lure more investors into equities, serving as a catalyst to move equities even higher.
A lack of major market-moving economic indicators in the United States on Monday will keep investors focused on developments in Cyprus.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 30.81 points or 0.21 percent, to 14,542.84, the S&P 500 gained 6.11 points or 0.39 percent, to 1,563 and the Nasdaq Composite added 10.67 points or 0.33 percent, to 3,255.67.
Dell Inc said it received alternative proposals from Blackstone and billionaire investor Carl Icahn that could be superior to the $24.4 billion offer from founder Michael Dell and private equity fund Silver Lake Partners last month. Dell shares rose 3.3 percent to 14.60.
Merger and acquisition activity has been another of the reasons for the stellar performance of stocks so far this year.
University of Phoenix owner Apollo Group rose 12 percent to $19.08 after it reported a better-than-expected profit even as student sign-ups fell for the fourth straight quarter.