Stocks rallied across the board today, after a number of major buyouts and earnings reports diverted traders' attentions from the foundering subprime market and an enervated dollar once again. The Dow was up 2.34 to 13943.42 after drug-maker Merck, a major component of the index, reported its best earnings since April, a far better result than expected.
The Nasdaq added 2.98 to 2690.58 and the S&P gained 7.47 to close at 1541.57. A major oil merger also helped to buoy markets: GlobalSantaFe, the world's second-largest offshore oil driller, agreed to a buyout by rival Transocean, the world's largest. Both companies saw a leap in share value; their merger will create a driller with a market cap around $48 bil. (Read more transocean stories.)