Stocks ended higher Monday with the Dow and S&P 500 hitting their highest levels since June 2008 amid a flurry of M&A activity and several positive earnings news.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69.48 points Monday, or 0.57 percent, to close at 12,161.63, hitting another 2-1/2 year high. Stocks extended gains Friday to end the week on a high note, posting the best week in two month.
AmEx, Bank of America and JPMorgan led the blue-chip index higher. At least nine stocks on the Dow hit new highs. Pfizer and Kraft were among the laggards.
The S&P 500 rose 8.18 points, or 0.62 percent—also hitting a 2-1/2 year high—finishing at 1,319.05. The Nasdaq rose 14.69 points, or 0.53 percent—to hit a 3-1/4 year high—ending at 2,783.99.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, rose near 16.
Among the key S&P 500 sectors, financials, industrials and energy rose, while telecom slipped.
Bank stocks were mostly in the green led by Wells Fargo , Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan .
A flurry of M&A news was at the center of attention. Diversified industrial company Danaher agreed to buy medical diagnostics company Beckman Coulter in a transaction valued at about $6.8 billion. Beckman shares jumped 10 percent.
EnsCo said it will acquire rival PrideInternational
And struggling U.S. Internet company AOL has agreed to buy The Huffington Post for $315 million.
Meanwhile, Sanofi-Aventis is closing in on a roughly $20 billion deal to buy U.S. biotech group Genzyme while pausing to take a final look at the books, according to sources.
Basic materials stocks will be in focus as the price of copper hit a record highon concerns about supply and as economic data recently boosted the outlook for demand.
"Copper continues to make new highs, which is a good indication the global economy is strengthening," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners. "Earnings continue to beat expectations and M&A continues. There's enthusiasm for equities in the U.S."
The dollar rose agains the eurofor the fourth consecutive session. Gold slipped slightly to finish the session at $1,348 an ounce and oil prices fell to settle at $87.35 a barrel.
Chesapeake Energy shares rose after the natural gas firm announced plans to raise $5 billion and trim its heavy debt load.