Stocks broke through a slump and posted strong gains on Monday, powered by two big corporate deals and a report that suggests the economy is getting stronger.
The Dow Jones industrial average is
now up two trading days in a row and has reduced some of the losses from last
Stocks have turned volatile ahead of a
Federal Reserve meeting that begins Tuesday, as investors bet on whether the central bank will dial back the stimulus that has boosted stock prices this
year. All of the big indexes are up more than 20 percent for the year.
At 12:30 ET, the Dow was up
133 points, or almost 1 percent, at 15,888, after rising almost 175 points in
the morning. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11 points, or almost 0.6
percent, to 1,787. The Nasdaq composite was higher by 28 points, or 0.7
percent, at 4,029.
Two major deals caught investors'
attention: Chipmaker Avago Technologies is buying LSI Corp. for $6.6 billion.
Avago was up $4.15, or 9 percent, to $49.80, while LSI rose $3.05, or 39
percent, to $10.97. AIG is selling its aircraft leasing business for about $5.4
billion to Dutch leasing company AerCap.
AIG has been selling major assets after getting a bailout during the
financial crisis. Its shares rose 67 cents to $50.39.
The Avago-LSI deal helped make tech
stocks the biggest gainers among the 10 industries in the S&P 500, all of
which rose. Others with gains included computer hard drive makers Western
Digital and Seagate, which both benefited from analyst upgrades.
Also Monday, the Federal Reserve said
factory production accelerated in November as auto production surged. The gains
in manufacturing could help boost economic growth.
Just last week, such positive reports
were making investors nervous. That's because they feared that the Fed would
think that the economy is doing so well that its $85 billion in monthly
bond-buying is no longer needed.
"People are starting to warm to
the idea that good news is good news," said Brad McMillan, chief
investment officer for Commonwealth Financial. For a while, investors felt,
"'Oh my goodness, we won't be able to survive without Fed support.' But
people are actually seeing that things really are getting better."
The Fed will release a statement and
projections for the economy Wednesday. Economists are almost unanimous in
believing that the Fed will not begin winding down its stimulus program just
Energy stocks had the second-biggest
gains in the S&P 500, led by Tesoro, which runs refineries and gas
stations. It was up $1.86, or more than 3 percent, at $58.13. Exxon Mobil rose
$2.63, or 3 percent, to $97.94 after being upgraded by Goldman Sachs. It was
the biggest gainer among the 30 stocks in the Dow.
Archer Daniels Midland rose 50 cents,
or 1 percent, to $40.84 after saying it will boost its dividend 26 percent.
Oil rose 84 cents to $97.44 on the New
York Mercantile Exchange.