North American markets made large gains Monday and oil and gold prices moved higher.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index closed up 224.07 points, or 1.6 per cent, to 14, 013.70, with the energy sector leading the way with a 2.3 per cent rise.

April oil moved up $1.26 to $102.33 US a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil prices climbed as traders prepare for prolonged fighting in Libya and continued to worry about supply disruptions that might occur elsewhere in the region.International forces smashed Libya's air defenses over the weekend, and a top French official said Monday that international intervention could last "awhile."

Wall Street also surged, despite a report showing fewer Americans bought previously occupied homes in February, pushing the median home price down to its lowest level in nearly nine years at $156,100.

The Dow Jones industrial average moved up 178.01 points to 12,036.53, the Nasdaq rose 48.42 points to 2,692.09, and the S&P index gained 19.18 points to 1,298.38.

The Canadian dollar was up 0.66 of a cent to 102.07 US ahead of Tuesday's federal budget announcement.

April gold closed up $10.30 at $1,426.40 US an ounce.

American investors were encouraged by news of two big deals. AT&T Inc. said it would buy rival T-Mobile USA  for $39 billion, creating the largest U.S. cell phone company, and Charles Schwab Corp. said it would buy online brokerage services provider OptionsXpress for $1 billion.

"You only expand when you have a good feeling about the future," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at New York-based brokerage house Avalon Partners.

And investor worries about Japan's stricken nuclear reactors eased. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant appeared to be stabilizing and that containment at three of the plant's six reactors was intact.

Canadian uranium companies made substantial gains after last week's sell off as Japan's nuclear crisis fed fears over the future of nuclear power. Shares in Uranium One added 14 per cent, or 55 cents, to $4.48 and shares in Cameco were up 7.4 per cent, or $2.13, to $31.09.

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press