Takeover Tuesday Boosts Stocks

News that Microsoft might make a play for 24/7 Media and a News Corp. bid for Dow Jones sent stocks higher on Tuesday.

Stocks were mixed early in the day on a stronger than expected national manufacturing report that also revealed more inflationary pressures. But the unexpected strength in manufacturing, along with falling oil prices and merger news, gave investors incentive to put money to work after yanking it out Monday on slowdown fears.

24/7 shares soared 20% on news of interest from Microsoft. Yahoo also made an online advertising acquisition, picking up Right Media for $680 million.

Atheros jumped 6% on its earnings report, but BEA , i2 and Trizetto stumbled on their results. i2 also announced a search to replace retiring CEO Michael McGrath, and the acquisition of Blue Agave Software. Its shares fell 30% on that news and lower than expected earnings and sales.

Level 3 fell for a second day on a downgrade, and Sun was another drag on the tech sector.

Pericom jumped on a buyback.

The Nasdaq rose 6 to 2531, the S&P 500 climbed 4 to 1486, and the Dow gained 73 to 13,136. Volume rose to 3.4 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.46 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancing issues led by a 17-14 margin on the NYSE, while decliners led 15-14 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 49% on the NYSE, and 60% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 113-41 on the NYSE, and 110-109 on the Nasdaq.

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