U.S. stocks rose on Monday, boosted by merger news and rising metals prices as investors bet on a stronger global economy.

The S&P 500 moved above a key short-term resistance level at 1,313.15, trading at its highest intraday level since June 2008.

Diversified industrial company Danaher Corp agreed to buy medical diagnostics company Beckman Coulter Inc for about $6.8 billion and oil drilling company EnsCo Plc will buy rival Pride International Inc
for about $7.3 billion.

The deals provided the latest signs that stock valuations are attractive.

Beckman shares jumped 9.6 percent to $82.40 while Pride added 17.4 percent to $40.35. Danaher gained 3.8 percent to $49.81.

Despite the recent gains, stock prices are still attractive on a relative basis, said Steve Goldman, market strategist at Weeden & Co in Greenwich, Connecticut.

We're in the phase of the cycle that suggests stock prices hold better value than other asset classes.

Basic materials stocks rose as the price of copper hit a record on concerns about supply and as economic data recently boosted the outlook for demand. Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc shares rose 1.4 percent to $57.54 and the S&P materials sector <.GSPM> led gains with a 0.8 percent rise.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 51.43 points, or 0.43 percent, to 12,143.58. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 6.16 points, or 0.47 percent, to 1,317.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 13.32 points, or 0.48 percent, to 2,782.62.

UBS raised its 2011 target for the S&P 500 index by 7.5 percent to 1,425 from 1,325, citing an improving outlook for the economy and earnings.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's new cabinet held its first full meeting Monday since a civil uprising started nearly two weeks ago, with no concrete progress in talks with an opposition which demands his immediate exit.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)