After Market: Mergers and Health Care Power a Healthy Stock Surge

A big rally to start the week sent one of the major averages to within a whisker of its all-time high Monday. And if analysts were left scratching their heads, trying to find a good reason for the day's big upswing, no one seemed to be complaining about it.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) jumped 105 points, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 29, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 11 points, closing within a point of its high water mark after giving back some of its gains in the final minutes of trading. The Dow has recovered most of its losses from the first five weeks of the year, but it's still about 2 percent shy of its record.

Of course, there were lots of winners. Let's start with the health care, drug and biotech sectors.

JPMorgan issued upbeat comments following a favorable ruling recently on Medicare reimbursement rates. Humana (HUM) jumped 10.5 percent. United Healthcare (UNH), Wellpoint (WLP) and Tenet (THC) all gained about 3 percent. Pfizer (PFE) rose 1.5 percent after revealing that its pneumonia vaccine had been shown to be effective in a large-scale clinical trial.

And a small biotech firm, Celladon (CGI), surged 26 percent after inking a research and licensing deal with the French firm Servier.

Mergers and acquisitions also powered some major stock moves.

Semiconductor firms RF Micro Devices (RFMD) and TriQuint (TQNT) agreed to combine. RF jumped 21 percent and TriQuint 26 percent.

Jos. A. Bank (JOSB) gained 9 percent as Men's Wearhouse (MW) upped its hostile bid to acquire its rival. Men's Wearhouse rose 7.5 percent.

And Chesapeake Energy (CHK) gained nearly 3 percent on news it may spin off its oil field services division.

Netflix (NFLX) gained 3.5 percent after agreeing to pay Comcast (CMCSA) a fee to insure the speedy transmission of its content. Over the past year; its stock chart has been moving almost constantly upward -– the streaming video giant has gained nearly 150 percent. But the deal sent Cogent Communications (CCOI) down nearly 7 percent. It's getting knocked out of its role as middleman between the two companies.

Finally, Blackberry (BBRY) jumped 7.5 percent following a report that it will supply the voice activated system in Ford's (F) cars. Blackberry shares are near the $10 mark, up from a low of below $6 back in December.

What to Watch Tuesday:

  • At 9 a.m. Eastern time, the Federal Housing Finance Agency releases its house price index for December, and Standard & Poor's releases the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for December.

  • The Conference Board releases consumer confidence for February at 10 a.m.

These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:

  • AMC Entertainment Holding (AMC)

  • Boston Beer (SAM)

  • Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (CBRL)

  • Home Depot (HD)

  • Macy's (M)

  • Office Depot (ODP)

  • Papa John's International (PZZA)

  • Steve Madden (SHOO)

  • T-Mobile US (TMUS)

  • Toll Brothers (TOL)

  • Visteon (VC)

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.