The Nasdaq Composite Index (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) closed above the psychologically important 5,000 milestone for the first time since March 2000, a feat not seen since the peak of the dot-com bubble. The tech heavy index is now within distance of its all-time closing high of 5,048.62 reached on March 10, 2000.

The Nasdaq Monday gained 44.57 points, or 0.9 percent, to close at 5,008.10 after climbing as high as 5,008.57 in afternoon trading.

Much of the recent momentum in the Nasdaq has been driven by gains from tech giant Apple Inc., which currently represents more than 10 percent of the Nasdaq's value. The iPhone maker became the first company ever to reach a market value of more than $700 billion last month. Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDQ:AAPL) edged up 0.49 percent Monday, or 0.63 points, to close at $129.09. 

U.S. stocks rallied early in the trading session, with the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average climbing more than 100 points, after China cut its interest rates during the weekend. All three major indexes also received a boost following stronger-than-expected U.S. manufacturing data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI), which measures the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, gained more than 155.93 points, or 0.86 percent, to close at 18,288.63; the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) added 12.89 points, or 0.61 percent, to end at 2,117.39.

Global oil prices tumbled more than 3 percent Monday, weighed down on speculation of a nuclear deal that could boost Iran's oil exports. Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, fell 2.9 percent to $59.65 a barrel, for April 15 delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange. Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, lost 0.3 percent, to $49.59 a barrel, for April 15 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Economists are looking ahead to Tuesday’s U.S. auto sales for February. Analysts expect total motor vehicle sales last month to reach 16.7 million compared to 16.66 million in January, Thomson Reuters data indicate.