NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks finished higher Monday, propelled by a flurry of deals news, strong earnings and signs of economic activity returning to normal in Egypt.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69 points, or 0.6%, at 12,161 after rising as high as 12,189 earlier in the session. The S&P 500 was higher by 8 points, or 0.6%, at 1,319, and the Nasdaq was ahead by 15 points, or 0.5% at 2,784.

Capital goods, conglomerates and financial sectors led the rally, while energy stocks underperformed.

Bank of America ( BAC), American Express ( AXP), and JPMorgan ( JPM) topped the Dow while Pfizer ( PFE), Kraft Foods ( KFT), and Verizon ( VZ) were among the biggest laggards.

About 1.7 billion shares traded on the Nasdaq, while 877 million shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Market breadth was positive with 2 out of every three stocks traded on the NYSE closing higher.

Monday's session brought a spate of deals news, including Danaher's ( DHR) agreement to buy biomedical testing equipment maker Beckman Coulter ( BEC) for $83.50 a share in cash, or roughly $6.8 billion, including assumed debt. Shares of Danaher spiked 2.2% to close at $49.03 and Beckman Coulter's stock gained 9.9% to $82.65.

AOL ( AOL) agreed to acquire the online news site The Huffington Post for $315 million. As part of the deal, the site's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington will be named president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group , which will integrate all Huffington Post and AOL content. AOL's stock shed 3.4% at $21.19.

Offshore contract drilling company Ensco ( ESV) agreed to acquire Pride International ( PDE) for $41.60 a share in cash and stock. Pride International's stock jumped 15.7% to $39.80 while Ensco's stock shed 4.2% to $52.13.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK-B) agreed to buy the remaining 19.9% stake of Wesco Financial ( WSC) for $547.6 million. Shares of Wesco gained 1.8% to $387.50.

Peter Tuz, Chase Investment Counsel president, said Monday's gains were merger driven.

"You're seeing companies spend their money and I think that's improving sentiment. Plus, the fact that we didn't see any deterioration in the Egypt situation over the last couple of nights is probably helping a little bit, too," Tuz said.

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