U.S. stocks opened higher on Monday, taking gains into a fourth week, with investors cheered by ongoing activity on the mergers-and-acquisitions front. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 20 points to 10,628. The S&P 500 climbed 2 points to 1,128. The Nasdaq Composite gained 4 points to 2,319. A number of mergers this morning. IBM is buying Netezza for $1.7 billion. Netezza is up 12% while IBM is higher as well. McMoRan is buying the gulf assets from Plain Exploration. McMoRan is jumping 2%. Freeport McMoRan is higher as well on an upgrade from Goldman Sachs. Another commodity player, Potash is higher on rumors of a takeover. A couple of commodity plays are lower, US Steel and Nucor, on downgrades. On the earnings front, Discover and Lennar are higher after beating estimates. Cooper Industries is up 2% after raising third quarter guidance. The analyst community is in a good mood this morning, upgrading a number of stocks. In the retail space Carmax, Aeropostale, Priceline, Big 5 Sports, and Best Buy are all higher on upgrades. In the tech sector Apple, Google, and Research in Motion all received positive analyst comments. Only Research in Motion is lower by 2.5%. That stock cannot get out of its' own way. AT&T and Verizon are higher on positive analyst comments. The financials are modestly higher except for Goldman Sachs. Aflac is higher on an upgrade. After the first half an hour the Dow rose 40 points while the Nasdaq rose 7 points. After the first hour the averages shot up with the Dow jumping 100 points while the Nasdaq rose 25 points. Google is up 3.5%. Apple is up 2.5% to new highs. The recession today is officially over. Now we worry about the double dip. Through the morning the averages remained near the highs of the day. In the afternoon the Presidents' town hall did nothing to discourage the markets. Entering the last hour the Dow rose 140 points. The Nasdaq rose 35 points. One big cap tech stock trading lower, down 3%, is Research in Motion. Frustrating stock. In the last hour the averages held firm. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 145 or 1.4%, to 10,753, lifted by 29 of its 30 components. Blue-chip gains were led by American Express, up 4.2%. The S&P 500 index rose 17 points, or 1.5%, to 1,142, led by a 2% gain in financials. The Nasdaq Composite gained 40 points, or 1.7%, to 2,355.
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