Stocks extended gains on Monday, sending the benchmark S&P 500 up more than 3 percent, following a report that showed sales of existing homes rebounded in February.

The housing data added to the optimism sparked earlier by the unveiling of a U.S. government plan to relieve banks of money-losing assets to revive the recession-hit economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 208.20 points, or 2.86 percent, at 7,486.58. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 23.94 points, or 3.11 percent, at 792.48. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 41.58 points, or 2.85 percent, at 1,498.85.

(Reporting by Ellis Mnyandu, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)