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Stocks end Monday trading higher

By staff and wire

Wall Street’s rally isn’t over yet.

Stocks came off their biggest gains of the session in the last two hours of trading Monday, but still ended sharply higher. The S&P 500 ended its streak to three day of gains.

According to preliminary calculations, The Dow Jones industrial average was up 104.83, or 0.89 percent, to 11,913.62. The S&P was 15.95 higher, or 1.29 percent, to 1,254.20. The Nasdaq rose 61.98, or 2.35 percent to 2,699.44. The market was able to shrug of any news from Europe because there wasn’t any. On Sunday, EU leaders boldly agreed to put off any new talks on the eurozone’s monetary crisis until Wednesday. Though they appeared to be making some progress.

"Investors are starting to get the sense that European governments are finally starting to get serious and have developed a sense of urgency to fix their problems," said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors told the Associated Press.

"The focus is turning back to U.S. fundamentals, which have improved sharply over the last three weeks," Orlando said. He cited improvements in manufacturing, consumer spending and corporate earnings.

And there was good corporate news for investors to mull over.

  • Caterpillar Inc shares surged and led the Dow higher after the heavy equipment maker reported a quarterly profit that topped estimates on record revenues.
  • HealthSpring Inc. jumped 33 percent after Cigna Corp. said it will buy the health insurer for about $3.8 billion in cash. Cigna fell 0.4 percent.
  • RightNow Technologies Inc. gained 19 percent after Oracle Corp. said it will buy the tech service company for about $1.5 billion. Oracle rose 0.8 percent.
  • Mattel Inc. rose 2 percent after it agreed to buy Hit Entertainment, the owner of the Thomas & Friends and Barney brands, for $680 million in cash.
  • The J.M. Smucker Co. added 1 percent after it bought most of Sara Lee Corp.'s North American foodservice coffee operations for about $350 million.

"When a big-name company ... reports numbers like these, that will help turn around talk about another recession," said Andrew Bodner, president of Double Diamond Investment Group in Parsippany, New Jersey.

"News like this, along with the turnaround we've seen in some economic indicators, is why the markets have moved up like they have."

The S&P has climbed almost 14 percent since Oct. 3, and recent gains have pushed the broad index to the top of its trading range between 1,230 and 1,250, where it has struggled to advance due to conflicting headlines from Europe.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.