U.S. Stocks climbed, supported by some solid earnings reports and a number or M&A deal-making, as the Dow and S&P 500 reached 31-month highs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.53 points, or 0.50 percent, to finish at 12,288.17 , its highest close since June 2008.

The S&P 500 index gained 8.31 points, or 0.63 percent, to 1,336.32 – also its highest level since June 2008.

The Nasdaq composite added 21.21 points, or 0.76 percent, to 2825.56 – the tech-heavy index closed at its highest level since November 2007.

Housing starts rose 14 percent to an annual rate of 596,000 units last month, while building permits fell 10 percent to an annual rate of 562,000 in January.
The government's Producer Price Index rose 0.8 percent in January., slightly more than expected.

Minutes from the FOMC meeting in late January indicated that central bank officials slightly upgraded their economic outlook for the
U.S. for 2011, but warned unemployment would remain high.

French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis agreed to acquire Genzyme (Nasdaq: GENZ) for $20.1 billion in cash.

Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE: FDO) soared 21.13 percent after Nelson Peltz's hedge fund made an offer to pay up to $60 a share to take the discount retailer private.

Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) surged 11.86 percent after the PC-maker delivered strong quarterly earnings and increased its revenue forecast.

Oil prices climbed 0.83 percent after Israel warned that two Iranian warships were going to pass through the Suez canal on their way to Syria.

Gold futures edged up slightly.

Bonds were little changed as the 10-year Treasury yield stayed at 3.62 percent.