Merger Mania

Merger mania hit new heights on Wednesday.

First, Comcast surprised with a $66 billion offer to acquire Dow component Disney .

Second, it turns out PeopleSoft was right: the Justice Department has big problems with Oracle’s buyout offer.

And last but not least, Eastman Kodak , another Dow component, was rumored to be weighing a bid for SanDisk .

The year-long stock market rally has raised stock valuations to the level that some companies just can’t resist spending that extra equity on acquisitions, witness Juniper’s blockbuster merger with NetScreen two days ago.

The broader market surged on an upbeat assessment of the economy and interest rates from Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.

The Nasdaq gained 14 to 2089, the S&P 500 rose 12 to 1157, and the Dow surged 123 to 10,737. Volume rose to 1.7 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.2 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 23-9 on the NYSE, and 19-12 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 79% on the NYSE, and 63% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 448-6 on the NYSE, and 266-2 on the Nasdaq.

After the close, Sonus revealed accounting problems. Brocade beat estimates, and Computer Sciences missed estimates.

During the day, Priceline and Orbitz surged on better than expected earnings.

Novatel soared 33% on its earnings report, and Micromuse gained 18% on its results.

Sycamore lost 6% after missing estimates, and Monster Worldwide fell 5% on a warning.

Sun gained 4% on the return of co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim.

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