Stocks post biggest gains in 2 months

Traders work on the floor of the New

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after the opening bell Friday. A group of National Hockey League all stars rang the opening bell in celebration of the start of upcoming 2013-14 season featuring six outdoor hockey games. (Sept. 6, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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The stock market got a boost Monday from mergers, homes and phones.

Stocks posted their biggest gains in almost two months. Two big deals suggested growing confidence in the economy: Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus was sold for $6 billion, and Koch Industries bought electronics component maker Molex for $7.2 billion.

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Homebuilding stocks were some of the biggest gainers in the Standard & Poor's 500 index after Hovnavian Enterprises said home prices are rising and its backlog jumped almost 27 percent from a year earlier.

Homebuilding stocks have had a volatile year. The housing market is recovering, but rising interest rates make mortgages more expensive for home buyers.

Apple rose. It's expected to announce a new iPhone Tuesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 140.62 points to 15,063.12. The Dow hit an all-time high of 15,658 on Aug. 2. But worries about Syria and rising interest rates pushed stocks down since then. The last time the Dow closed above 15,000 was Aug. 23.

The S&P 500 index rose 1 percent to 1,671.71. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.26 percent to 3,706.18. -- AP

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