U.S. stocks advanced in early trade on Monday, led by gains from energy sector stocks on higher crude prices.

The S&P 500 Index gained 5.79 points, or 0.44 percent, to trade at 1,326.94 at 9:40 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 50.03 points, or 0.41 percent, to trade at 12,219.91. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.26 percent.

Fears of a civil war and a humanitarian crisis grew in Libya as forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi escalated attacks on rebel-held cities in a bid to recapture control, causing dozens of deaths and mass exodus of people.

Crude oil futures in New York climbed by more than 1.09 percent to almost $105.56 a barrel. Oil prices have surged more than 23 percent since unrest erupted in northern Africa and the Middle East earlier this year.

On the economic front, a report from the Federal Reserve on the consumer credit situation is due to be released at 3:00 pm EST.

On the corporate front, shares of TomoTherapy Inc. (NASDAQ:TOMO) jumped 25.89 percent after Accuray Inc. (NASDAQ:ARAY) said it has agreed to buy TomoTherapy for $277 million or $4.80 a share in cash and stock, paving the way for the creation of a premier radiation oncology company.

Western Digital Corp. (NYSE:WDC) climbed 15.96 percent after the company said it agreed to acquire Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan’s Hitachi , for $4.3 billion in cash and stock.

U.S. stocks ended lower on Friday as a spike in oil prices (driven by deepening unrest in Libya) overshadowed a strong February jobs report.

The euro advanced 0.12 percent to 1.4004 against the dollar while the greenback declined 0.18 percent against the yen.

European stock markets are currently trading higher with FTSE 100 up by 40.01 points, DAX30 up by 52.15 points and CAC 40 up by 9.70 points.