Market Recap: Banks and M&A Pop, Investors Eagerly Await Earnings

Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.89%, S&P +1.29%, Nasdaq +2.35%, Oil +4.73%, Gold +1.16%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) climbed to $91.53 a barrel. Precious metals were also up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,655.00 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) rose 1.77% to $31.75.

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Today’s markets were up because:

1) Financials. As investors slowly become more optimistic about Europe’s handling of the debt crisis, with Germany and France making strides toward expanding the EFSF, banks are getting a boost. JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) both climbed upwards of 3% today, while Citigroup (NYSE:C) popped 4.29%.

2) Mergers. A slew of merger announcements gave markets a boost today, as they signaled positive outlooks for many of the companies involved. In times of economic turmoil and uncertainty, when companies have grim prospects, they are much less likely to enter into multimillion or multibillion dollar mergers or acquisitions, as one can see by examining M&A activity over the last year, so the turn around is being taken as a good sign. Among those companies announcing deals are General Electric (NYSE:GE), Juniper (NYSE:JNPR), Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI), Entergy (NYSE:ETR), Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), and Cigna (NYSE:CI).

3) Earnings. Stocks are up as earnings season gets in full swing, with Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) reporting record revenue for the third quarter and heavyweight Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) announcing today after the bell. Reports from Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) and Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) are also among the most anticipated this week.

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