The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up nearly 150 points as of 11:30 a.m. EST. Tech stocks BlackBerry (NYSE:BB) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) were both showing impressive gains early in the session. Dow Jones component Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), however, was underperforming its index.
Markets near all-time highs
With Monday's rally, the Dow Jones was only about 300 points away from its all-time high. There didn't seem to be much economic news to explain the move, as there were few relevant U.S. data points released Monday.
European data did come in better than expected, which might have spilled over into U.S. markets. The latest reading on German business confidence came in at 111.3, slightly above the 110.6 economists had anticipated. At the same time, inflation in the eurozone was accelerating faster than anticipated, with a reading of 0.8% above the 0.7% estimate. Both measures suggest that the European economy might be strengthening, a positive sign for U.S. multinationals.
Verizon slumps on business update
Verizon was not participating in the Dow rally, down nearly 1% early in the session. The wireless provider said on Monday that its finalized deal to take full control of Verizon Wireless would boost earnings per share by about 10% and grow consolidated revenue by about 4% in 2014. Investors may have been expecting more. Last week, Verizon rallied after analysts at Jefferies argued that today's business update would serve as a catalyst to propel shares higher.
Facebook rallies on WhatsApp announcement
Facebook was up 3.2% in morning trading. The rally appears to be fueled by an announcement from messaging service WhatsApp, the company Facebook spent $19 billion on last week, that it would incorporate voice calling into its app later this year. The addition of voice could further boost WhatsApp's user engagement and make it a major competitor to Microsoft's Skype.
BlackBerry surges on reports of Ford deal, BBM expansion
Shares of the Canadian handset maker BlackBerry were up more than 8% early on Monday. Two announcements appeared to be fueling the rally.
The first was that BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) would head to Microsoft's Windows Phone this summer. Like WhatsApp and Skype, BBM is a cross-platform messaging app. If WhatsApp is worth $19 billion, then BBM could prove to be a valuable asset, particularly as it continues to add users on different platforms.
The second was a report from Bloomberg that auto giant Ford could be about to sign a deal with BlackBerry to use its QNX technology to power Ford's in-car connectivity service, SYNC, which was developed in partnership with Microsoft.