* Alcoa to buy RTI International for $1.5 bln
* Apple shares volatile after Apple Watch rollout
* Indexes up: Dow 0.8 pct, S&P 0.4 pct, Nasdaq 0.2 pct (Updates to late afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, March 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Monday, boosted by a couple of billion-dollar deals, while Apple shares fluctuated following the long-anticipated rollout of its watch.
The gain comes a session after the S&P 500's biggest drop in almost two months, as well as two straight weeks of declines for major indexes.
Alcoa Inc said it would buy RTI International Metals Inc for $1.5 billion. Separately, Simon Property Group offered to buy Macerich Co for $22.4 billion including debt.
Alcoa lost 6.4 percent to $13.55 while RTI jumped 38 percent to $37.62. Macerich rose 6.1 percent to $92 and Simon Property was up 0.1 percent at $180.78.
"We're seeing a little bit of a snapback from Friday's reaction to the jobs report. We're seeing a little of that reversion-to-the-mean trade coming back," said Larry Peruzzi, senior equity trader at Cabrera Capital Markets Inc in Boston.
"Apple's rollout of the watch has tech stocks moving a bit."
Apple shares were down 0.5 percent at $125.92 in heavy trading. The stock slightly extended gains after the rollout of the watch, but then pared those gains and turned lower as Apple announced the price would range from $349 to $10,000.
At 2:34 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 148.03 points, or 0.83 percent, to 18,004.81, the S&P 500 gained 7.85 points, or 0.38 percent, to 2,079.11 and the Nasdaq Composite added 7.51 points, or 0.15 percent, to 4,934.88.
The S&P 500 is about 2 percent below its record closing high, as is the Dow. The Nasdaq is 2.4 percent below its record close hit in March 2000.
Whiting Petroleum Corp rose 12.9 percent to $38.42. Late Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was seeking a possible buyer, though a person familiar with the board's thinking told Reuters he was not aware of such a plan.
U.S. crude futures rose 0.8 percent to settle at $50.00 a barrel after market data firm Genscape reported a modest stock build last week at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point for oil. The S&P energy sector was down 0.4 percent after climbing earlier in the session.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,573 to 1,440, for a 1.09-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,405 issues rose and 1,291 fell for a 1.09-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 8 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 56 new highs and 54 new lows. (Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)