Merger Monday: AT&T Buy Ignites Rally

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

Multiple notable acquisitions, including AT&T's $39 billion deal to buy T-Mobile, fueled broad gains for Wall Street.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 178 points, or 1.5%, to 12037, the S&P 500 climbed 19.2 points, or 1.5%, to 1298 and the Nasdaq Composite was higher by 48.4 points, or 1.8%, to 2692. The FOX 50 gained 11.9 points to 913.

The Dow, S&P and the Nasdaq are on their best three-day winning streak since September 3, rebounding from steep losses in the beginning of last week. News that the volatile nuclear crisis in Japan stabilized somewhat helped instill a sense of confidence in the markets. Indeed, workers were able to connect external power to two of the stricken reactors, raising hopes that a full meltdown wouldn't take place.

"The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains very serious, but we have seen signs of improvement," Yukiya Amano, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General, said at a press conference.

AT&T's (NYSE:T) plans to acquire Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA unit in a $39 billion cash-and-stock deal lifted stocks.  The merger, if approved, would create the biggest mobile provider in the U.S. Shares of rival-provider Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) plummeted more than 10%.

Also on the mergers and acquisitions front, Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW) is buying Optionsexpess (NASDAQ:OXPS) for $17.91 a share, or roughly $1 billion.

Traders weren't deterred by oil prices that soared amid continued instability in North Africa and the Middle East.  U.S. and coalition forces slammed Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi's air defenses over the weekend and into Monday, clearing the way for further action, in accordance with the U.N. resolution to protect civilians in the oil-producing country.

The situation in Yemen remained tense after the government violently cracked down on anti-government protesters, killing and injuring civilians, according to media reports.

Light, sweet crude jumped $1.26, or 1.3%, to $102.33 a barrel.  The price for a gallon of regular gas was $3.55 on average, up from $3.16 last month and $2.82 last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

Prices have spiked in recent weeks as traders have priced in the risk of volatility spreading to larger oil producers, such as Saudi Arabia.

Sales of previously-occupied homes plunged 9.6% to an annualized rate of 4.88 million in February from January, far weaker than economists' expectations for a drop of 4%. The report by the National Association of Realtors also showed the median home price sinking 5.2% to 156,100 -- the lowest level since April 2002.

"This was a disappointing report, but part of the decline may be attributed to some payback after three months of steady gains," wrote Theresa Chen, an economist at Barclays Capital, in a research note.

Difficult conditions in the mortgage markets are continuing to make it difficult for consumers to make real estate purchases, according to Chen.

In the foreign exchange market, the euro gained 0.2% against the dollar and the greenback climbed 0.25% against the Japanese yen.

Gold recently settled higher by $11.90, or 0.73%, to $1426 a troy ounce.

Corporate Movers

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) filed actions against Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS), Foxconn and Inventec saying the manufacturers infringed on the technology-giant's patents in Android devices.

Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS) garnered approval from U.S. regulators to drill three exploratory wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) could sell as much as $20 billion worth of properties, according to a research note by Deutsche Bank.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares jumped more than 2% on hopes the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would boost the potential subscriber-base for its popular iPhones and iPads.

Citigroup (NYSE:C) plans on reinstating its quarterly dividend and announced a one-for-ten stock split, which will substantially reduce the outstanding common stock and increase the stock price.

Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) was a top performer on the S&P 500 after it posted a better-than-expected sales forecast of between $3.35 and $3.45 a share for the year.

Nissan will resume manufacturing at all of its Japanese factories this week.

Boeing's (NYSE:BA) new 747-8, the largest commercial plane built by the aircraft maker, took flight for the first time Sunday.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) temporarily suspended production at one of its New York plants amid supply disruptions in the wake of the earthquake in Japan.

Foreign Markets

Major global averages were solidly in the green Monday.

The Chinese Hang Seng was up 1.7% to 22685 and Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

In Europe, the English FTSE 100 climbed 1.2% to 5786, the French CAC 40 was higher by 2.5% to 3904 and the German DAX gained 2.3% to 6816.