By Kristina Peterson
The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened above 11,000 for the first time since September 2008 on Monday as optimism rose over the upcoming earnings season and confidence in the global economy strengthened after European leaders pledged to extend aid to Greece.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 19 points, or 0.2%, to 11017 in early trading. The measure hit 11000 on Friday for the first time since September 2008. Caterpillar (CAT) was the measure's strongest component, up 1.3%. Bank of America (BAC) also rose 0.7%. Alcoa (AA)strengthened 0.6%, ahead of its earnings announcement after the bell closes on Monday.
But shares of Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) fell 0.4% after The Mail on Sunday reported that its unit, the Asda Group, is looking for acquisitions in Britain. DuPont (DD) was also weak, down 0.4%.
The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) gained 0.2%, while the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index (SPX) gained 0.2%, with all of its sectors except for materials in the black. Telecommunications and utilities led the climb.
The dollar fell against the euro, which strengthened on Sunday's news that euro-zone nations were willing to lend Greece 30 billion euros, with the countries also agreeing to lend the money at an interest rate of close to 5%, below the more than 7% Greece now has to pay on the open market. Greece has not yet asked for the aid to be delivered amid hopes it will be able to return to the bond market.
The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY), which represents the U.S. currency against a basket of six other currencies, fell 0.6%.
Meanwhile Chinese officials said the country ran its first monthly trade deficit during March in six years, as a surge in imports outpaced exports and commodities prices rose.
Among stocks in focus, Palm (PALM) jumped 16% after the company reportedly put itself up for sale and is seeking bids as soon as this week, according to Bloomberg News.
Power producers Mirant (MIR) and RRI Energy (RRI) agreed to an all-stock, tax-free merger to be called GenOn Energy. It will have a pro-forma market capitalization of $3.1 billion and 24,700 megawatts of electric-generating capacity. Shares of Mirant jumped 18% in recent trading, while shares of RRI were up 15%.
UBS AG (UBS) rose 3.9% after the group said it expects to swing to a first-quarter pretax profit of at least 2.5 billion Swiss francs ($2.4 billion), against a loss of around 1.5 billion francs a year earlier.