NEW YORK (AP) _ The Dow rose within 100 points of new highs this morning as stocks drew a boost from news of major merger talks in the financial and technology groups.

At 11 a.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 81.10 at 9,240.65, the highest level since just after the blue-chip measure peaked at 9,337.97 on July 17. The early gain pushed the Dow's rebound to nearly 1,800 points since early October.

Broader stock indicators also started strong as financial shares rallied amid reports that Germany's Deutsche Bank is discussing the final details of $9 billion deal to take over Bankers Trust.

Technology shares also jumped out to a strong start after America Online confirmed it is negotiating to buy Netscape Communications in a $4 billion deal.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 11.34 at 1,174.89, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index was up 29.09 at 1,957.30.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 5-to-3 margin on the New York Stock Exchange and by a 4-to-3 ratio on the Nasdaq Stock Market. NYSE volume came to 221.39 million shares, down sharply from Friday's early pace.

The NYSE composite index was up 4.43 at 576.51, and the American Stock Exchange composite index was up 0.57 at 675.58.

In afternoon trading, Germany's DAX index was up 2.1 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 was up 2.0 percent, and France's CAC-40 was up 1.1 percent. Japanese markers were closed for a holiday.