Deal news, earnings push stocks higher

Several big acquisitions and a strong earnings report from Loews Corp. pushed stocks higher Monday.

Pride International Inc. jumped 16 percent after Ensco PLC, a London-based oil rig operator, said it would buy the offshore driller for $7.3 billion.

Beckman Coulter Inc. gained 10 percent after Danaher Corp. said it plans to buy the manufacturer of medical diagnostic tests for $5.8 billion.

Loews Corp. rose 4 percent. The company, which owns Loews hotels and the property insurer CNA Financial Corp., said falling costs helped earnings rise 16 percent even as revenue slipped slightly. The results were higher than analysts were expecting and helped push financial companies higher.

Joseph Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading, said that with no major economic reports due out this week, mergers and earnings reports will continue to drive stocks higher. Anything that can be construed as good news is likely to give investors a reason to buy stocks, he said.

"The path of least resistance right now is up," Saluzzi said. "People are beginning to assume the market is going higher. It's momentum."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 69.48 points, or 0.6 percent, to 12,161.63. The Dow has now risen for six straight days, its longest winning streak since November.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8.18, or 0.6 percent, to 1,319.05. The Nasdaq composite gained 14.69, or 0.5 percent, to 2,783.99.

Financial companies rose 1.5 percent, the largest gain of any of the 10 company groups that make up the S&P index.

Lorillard Inc. rose 2 percent after the company, which makes Newport and Maverick cigarettes, said it increased both sales and prices of its products.

AOL Inc. dropped 3.4 percent after saying it would buy the Huffington Post, a news and opinion website, for $315 million. Arianna Huffington, the site's co-founder and political pundit, will join AOL's management team.

Toy maker Hasbro Inc. rose 1.8 percent after reporting earnings that were lower but still beat analysts' expectations.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 3.64 percent from 3.65 percent late Friday.

Monday was the first day of trading since the company that owns the Nasdaq exchange admitted Saturday it had been hacked late last year. The problem did not affect any trades, the company said.

Two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 4 billion shares.