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The flood of mergers hitting the US is even bigger than you think it is

AT&T signage is displayed on a monitor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

It's been a good month for mergers and acquisitions.

Low interest rates and better growth prospects are spurring companies to either fuse together or snap each other up — making the value of U.S. M&A deals announced this October the second-largest month ever recorded.

Against a heated political backdrop that appears to point to tougher regulations ahead, the largest tie-up of the year was announced over the weekend, a $85-billion-plus pact between AT&T and Time Warner. Then came a series of other announcements, including Qualcomm's nearly $40 billion agreement to buy NXP Semiconductors on Thursday.

Different research firms calculate the merger totals differently, but S&P Global Market Intelligence puts the value of mergers and acquisitions involving U.S. companies at $265.3 billion for the month, making it the second-largest month of such announcements ever.

"I think we had a little pause in the first quarter when there were really big fears about the possibility of a recession. Then you had the Brexit uncertainty," said David Lefkowitz, senior equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas.

Right now, however, "people are more comfortable in the environment, and they're willing to engage again and maybe on the margin it looks like interest rates are starting to creep up," Lefkowitz said. That looks like one of the factors "that generated this activity this week."