Buyout Boom Lifts Stocks

Another merger Monday sent stocks surging a day ahead of U.S. midterm elections, as investors also appeared to warm to the idea of a return to gridlock on Capitol Hill.

Private equity continued to pour into public companies, with Four Seasons , OSI Restaurants and Swift Transportation the latest to receive offers to go private. Bill Gates was among the investors in the Four Seasons deal.

Tech stocks also benefited from the merger mania, with PortalPlayer , Per-Se and among those agreeing to buyouts.

Cisco gained 4% ahead of its results due out late Wednesday.

Palm lost 8% after being the latest to get sued by NTP, raising the specter of Research In Motion’s long-running battle with the patent holding firm.

Overstock and Multi-Fineline fell on their results, while XM Satellite Radio surged on its earnings.

The Nasdaq surged 35 to 2365, the S&P 500 gained 15 to 1379, and the Dow rose 120 to 12,105. Volume rose to 2.44 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.96 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 24-8 on the NYSE, and 21-9 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 83% on the NYSE, and 83% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 200-18 on the NYSE, and 151-50 on the Nasdaq.

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