NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks climbed Monday on the strength of a major telecommunications deal and signs that that Japan's nuclear crisis was stabilizing.
AT&T Inc. said it would buy rival T-Mobile USA for $39 billion, creating the largest U.S. cellphone company. Charles Schwab Corp. said it would buy online brokerage services provider OptionsXpress for $1 billion. The deals raised hopes that more corporate buyouts could be on the way as businesses become more confident in the economic recovery.
"You only expand when you have a good feeling about the future," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at New York-based brokerage house Avalon Partners.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 171 points, or 1.4 percent, to 12,029 in afternoon trading.
The S&P 500 index gained 20, or 1.6 percent, to 1,299. It's now just five points below the level it closed at on March 11, the day the earthquake struck Japan. The Nasdaq composite rose 47, or 1.8 percent, to 2,691.
Worries about Japan's stricken nuclear reactors eased after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant appeared to be stabilizing. Containment at three of the plant's six reactors was intact, the commission said.
Energy stocks led the market higher after oil prices climbed back above $103 per barrel. Schlumberger Ltd., which helps companies drill for oil and gas, rose 3.7 percent to $89.15. ConocoPhillips rose 3.1 percent to $77.66.
Tiffany & Co. rose 4.6 percent to $59.97 after reporting higher-than-expected earnings. The jeweler said Japan's earthquake could hurt its earnings because of store closings and limited hours. The company does 18 percent of its business there.
The violence in Libya and Japan's earthquake have led to many large swings in the Dow since late February. The Dow rose or fell by 100 points or more during three days last week. Seven of the 14 trading days since the start of March have had swings that large.
In the latest signs of trouble in the U.S. housing market, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously occupied homes fell 10 percent last month. The supply of unsold homes remains relatively high at 3.5 million.