Stocks opened higher this morning, helped along by a host of merger announcements. Techs got boost when Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) said it would pay $1.5 billion for cloud-based customer service provider RightNow Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: RNOW). Strong earnings from Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) were among quarterly reports that gave markets a push higher as well. Investors are also buying on news from Europe that the EU’s takeover fund will be significantly expanded. Oil prices gained nearly 4% on an improved global economic outlook. The market gave back some gains late in the day on word that another downgrade of US debt may be coming if the Congressional supercommittee fails to deliver a budget agreement.The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up nearly 106 points to 11,914.75 (0.89%), the NASDAQ rose nearly 62 points (2.35%) to 2,699.44, and the S&P 500 rose 1.29% or nearly 16 points to 1,254.21.There were several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including a re-iteration of the ‘outperform’ rating for McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) at Credit Suisse. The brokerage maintained the company on its Focus List and lifted the stock’s target price to $104. Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. (NYSE: IVN) was started at ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse, as was North American Palladium Ltd. (NYSE: PAL). Royal Gold, Inc. (NASDAQ: RGLD) was raised to ‘outperform’ at National Bank.

We also want to call out some of the other mergers and acquisitions announced this morning. Mattel Inc. (NYSE: MAT) acquired HIT Entertainment for $680 million. J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM) is paying $350 million for the food service coffee and tea business of Sara Lee Corp. (NYSE: SLE). Today’s biggest deal has insurance company CIGNA Corp. (NYSE: CI) paying $3.8 billion for HealthSpring Inc. (NYSE: HS) as the insurance industry keeps on consolidating.

Here are today’s big post-earnings news reactions with prices during the last half-hour of trading: Caterpillar’s shares are up nearly 5%, at $91.66; Eaton Corp. (NYSE: ETN) up about 4.5%, at $44.12; Lorillard, Inc. (NYSE: LO) down less than -0.5%, at $115.16 after missing EPS estimates this morning; Metro Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ: METR) down nearly -8% after posting an EPS loss of -$0.41; Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) up more than 1.5% in anticipation of the company’s earnings release after the bell today; and Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) up more than 3.6% on expected earnings after today’s markets close.

Several other standouts from today are as follows…

Adolor Corp. (NASDAQ: ADLR) is up about 132%, at $4.49, on news of its acquisition by Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: CBST) for $190 million, or $4.25/share. Adolor’s 52-week trading range is $1.09-$4.53, and the high was set today, anticipating that the company will hit milestones in the acquisition offer that could add up to $35 million to the purchase price.

Sky-mobi Ltd. (NASDAQ: MOBI) is up 42%, at $5.55, on a strategic partnership with SINA Corp. (NASDAQ: SINA). Sky-mobi’s Maopao mobile social network will now be able to offer SINA’s microblog as a downloadable application.

Amtech Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASYS) is up more than 23%, to $11.25. The company, which makes manufacturing equipment for solar makers, is getting boost from today’s rise in solar stocks.

SXC Health Solutions Corp. (NASDAQ: SXCI) is down more than -20%, at $44.98. HealthSpring, which is being acquired by CIGNA, is one of SXC’s biggest customers, accounting for about a third of the company’s sales.

Dataram Corp. (NASDAQ: DRAM) is off more than -10%, at $1.10. Spot prices for dynamic RAM continue to weaken, a trend that caused Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) results to tumble last quarter.

Paul Ausick

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.