U.S. stocks started sharply higher Monday as Wall Street embraced AT&T planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA in a move that would make it the nation's biggest wireless player. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 158 points to 12,016 with telecom giants Verizon Communications and AT&T leading the gains among its 30 components, both up over 2%. The S&P 500 Index added 16 points to 1,295. The Nasdaq Composite rose 36 points to 2,680. The AT&T deal is lifting T-Mobile's parent stock Deutsche Telekom by 12%. Charles Schwab is also making a deal to acquire Option Express for a billion dollars. Option Express is up 15%. On the earnings front, Tiffanys is up 6% after beating estimates. Illinois Tool Works is up 2% after reiterating sales and earnings for the quarter. Bed Bath & Beyond is up 3% on an upgrade. Target is also higher on an upgrade. In the tech space EMC, Oracle, Research in Motion, and Qualcomm are higher on upgrades. Google and Apple are strong this morning. Nokia is up a percent after news they are unaffected by the Japanese earthquake. After the first hour the averages only improved with the Dow jumping 200 points and the Nasdaq rising 51 points. The strength is in the blue chip industrials like Caterpillar, Chevron, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, IBM, 3M, and of course Verizon and AT&T. Through the morning the averages remained strong, but off the highs. Many of the financials fell into the red after a big run up on Friday. The techs and commodities still look good. In the afternoon the averages gave up a little more of their gains led by financials. However in the last hour, into the close, the averages rebounded for a third straight up day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 178 points, or 1.5%, at 12,036, led by a 3% rise in Boeing shares. The last time Dow closed above 12,000 was March 11, the first U.S. trading session after a 9.0 earthquake hit Japan. The S&P 500 gained 19 points, or 1.5%, to 1,298, with energy shares leading gains. The Nasdaq Composite ended up 48 points, or 1.8%, at 2,692.
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