Shares of other media and telecom companies also rose, including T-Mobile US Inc, Sprint Corp, CBS Corp, Dish Network Corp, Discovery Inc and Viacom Inc.
However, in Verizon's most recent quarterly earnings call, executives said they would rather sit out the current consolidation, and instead build out its content offerings through partnerships with independent media companies. "We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner".
Elsewhere in the health space, shares of Express Scripts, which is about to be acquired by Cigna, soared 4.9 percent, to $83.05.
United States district judge Richard Leon dismissed the antitrust case brought by the justice department last November, the culmination of a 20-month ordeal that has seen the deal attacked by Donald Trump, critics of media consolidation and consumer groups. But, he added, "the government's evidence is too thin a reed for this court to rely on".
Judge Leon delivered his opinion in a closed courtroom packed with reporters and telecom industry-watchers.
In denying any attempt by the government to seek a stay of his ruling during appeal, Leon said AT&T and Time Warner "understandably fear the government will now seek to do indirectly what it couldn't accomplish directly". The "drop dead" deadline for completing the merger is June 21. The transition to streaming services, away from traditional cable, is one that's costing pay TV companies millions of subscribers and billions in revenue every year. It proposed that either AT&T not get Turner in the deal or that it should divest itself of DirecTV prior to acquiring Time Warner.
Tuesday's ruling signaled that federal regulators will have a hard time stopping companies from getting bigger by gobbling up rivals and the programming they own. It's unclear at the present time if Fox will stick with the Disney deal or start a potential bidding war. Disney has made a $52.4 billion all-stock offer for the bulk of Twenty-First Century Fox, including the studios behind the "Avatar" movies, "The Simpsons" and "Modern Family". AT&T's favorable ruling would seem to clear any regulatory hesitation. "For AT&T and Time Warner, this is a major victory lap". The government alleged that by owning Time Warner, AT&T would have too much leverage in negotiations with television distributors, which would hurt competitors, harm innovation and could lead to increased cable prices for consumers. Judge Richard Leon ruled the deal is legal and he did not impose any conditions on the merger.
The ruling is a major setback for the Justice Department and its antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, whose decision to sue to block the deal broke with convention. AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Post-merger, AT&T rivals like Charter Communications and Cox, which now pay Time Warner for its channels, would suddenly also become AT&T's customers.
Still, at least one company, Comcast, the largest USA cable provider, had been waiting for the court decision before making any large M&A moves in media, sources have said.