Stocks Keep Climbing Midday

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are making more gains Monday as investors react to the Republican tax plan, which could boost corporate profits and stock prices, as well as several corporate deals. Technology companies, banks and retailers and leading the way. Two major food companies bought smaller snack makers: Campbell Soup will buy pretzel maker Snyder's-Lance for $4.87 billion and Hershey will buy Amplify Snack Brands for $1.2 billion.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index jumped 17 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,693 as of 12:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 180 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,832. The Nasdaq composite rose 62 points, or 0.9 percent, to 6,999. All three closed at record highs following strong gains Friday. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was also on track for a record high as it climbed 17 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,548.

CAMPBELL CHOWS DOWN: Campbell Soup will buy pretzel maker Snyder's-Lance for $50 a share, or $4.87 billion. The deal will give Campbell a group of brands including Snyder's of Hanover, Kettle Brand and Pop Secret. Snyder's climbed $3.21, or 6.9 percent, to $50. It has surged 26 percent since Tuesday's close on reports Campbell Soup was preparing a bid. Campbell gained 41 cents to $50.01.

SWEET AND SALTY: Chocolate and candy maker Hershey agreed to buy Amplify Snack Brands for $12 a share, or $1.2 billion. Amplify's foods include Skinny Pop popcorn, Tyrrells potato chips and Oatmega protein bars. Amplify went public in August 2015 at $18 a share but had fallen steadily for more than a year. On Monday its stock jumped $4.96, or 70.9 percent, to $11.96. Hershey added $1.05 to $115.19.

TAX BILL: Stocks climbed Friday as Republicans in Congress appeared to shore up support to pass their tax plan. They hope to muscle the $1.5 trillion bill through Congress this week before a year-end break. The bill slashes the corporate tax rate, and that's especially significant for smaller and more domestically-focused companies because they pay higher rates than larger, more multi-national companies do.

Financial companies including regional U.S. banks did well Monday. Capital One surged $3.43, or 3.6 percent, to $99.74 and Fifth Third Bancorp rose 62 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $30.65.

Among smaller companies, wheel and tire supplier Titan International climbed $1.52, or 12.9 percent, to $13.31. Clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch rose $1.01, or 6 percent, to $17.72. Instant-win lottery ticket maker Scientific Games advanced $1, or 2 percent, to $51.85.

Other leaders included technology companies. Apple was on track for a new high as it gained $2.41, or 1.4 percent, to $176.39.

Cloud services provider Akamai Technologies leaped after Elliott Management, led by activist investor Paul Singer, disclosed a 6.5 percent stake in the company and said it wants to discuss changes to the company's business and other areas. Akamai climbed $8.66, or 15 percent, to $66.43.

GOING ALL-IN: Pinnacle Entertainment is being snapped up by Penn National in a deal worth about $2.8 billion in cash and stock as gambling companies look to diversify their businesses and cut costs. Pinnacle slipped 3 cents to $30.92 while Penn National lost $1.50, or 5 percent, to $28.20. Boyd Gaming is buying four properties as part of the deal for a total of $575 million, and its stock picked up $1.48, or 4.6 percent, to $33.81.

BITCOIN: Bitcoin futures began trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. They dipped $575, or 2.9 percent, to $18,925. Bitcoin futures started trading on the Cboe last week. Neither one involves ting actual bitcoin. Instead, they track indexes of bitcoin prices as investors make bets on what the price will do.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude declined 4 cents to $57.26 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 10 cents to $63.33 a barrel in London.

BONDS: Bond prices dipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.38 percent from 2.35 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 112.45 yen from 112.63 yen. The euro rose to $1.1803 from $1.1757.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX rose 1.6 percent and the CAC 40 of France climbed 1.3 percent. In Britain, the FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent.

Japan's Nikkei rose 1.6 percent after the country's exports surged in November, driven by robust demand for cars and manufacturing equipment. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.6 percent and the South Korean finished little changed.