Trump-linked stocks soar after DeSantis throws in the towel

FILE PHOTO: Republican Presidential Caucus Day in Iowa

By Noel Randewich

(Reuters) - Shares of Digital World Acquisition, the blank check firm set to take former U.S. President Donald Trump's social media platform public, soared to their highest in 19 months on Monday after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ended his 2024 presidential bid.

The stock jumped 55% to $41, its highest since June 2022, after DeSantis on Sunday stopped his campaign just two days before the pivotal New Hampshire primary. DeSantis also endorsed Trump over rival Republican hopeful Nikki Haley.

Digital World has now more than doubled over the past five trading sessions as the former president gained momentum in his bid to become the Republican candidate in November's general election.

Shares of video-sharing platform Rumble, popular with conservatives, jumped 33% to $4.77 on Monday. The company announced a partnership with media firm Barstool Sports.

Software developer Phunware, hired by Trump's 2020 presidential re-election campaign to build a phone app, jumped 40% to 36 cents.

Digital World remains down over half from levels seen in March 2022 after the company's merger with Trump Media & Technology Group, parent of Trump's social media platform Truth Social, faced multiple delays since it was announced in October 2021.

Digital World Acquisition said last month it expects to complete its merger with TMTG as soon as the first quarter.

Following Monday's surges, Digital World Acquisition has a stock market value of $1.5 billion, with Rumble valued at $1.3 billion and Phunware valued at $121 million.

Trump had vowed to stick exclusively with Truth Social after he was banned by Twitter following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

However, he returned to, formerly Twitter, in August months after his ban was reversed by new owner Elon Musk.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich, edited by Lance Tupper aned Nick Macfie)