Stocks opened broadly higher Monday after several mergers were announced and the day's news held no other unpleasant surprises. Shortly after the opening bell on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) had added more than 70 points. The NASDAQ ($COMPQ) was up 15.
It's merger Monday. ServiceMaster (SVM) is trading higher on news the company has agreed to a Leverage Buyout. Private-equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice is leading the LBO. SVM is up $1.69 to $15.16 a share on the news. Meanwhile, Barclay's (BCS) is making a bid for ABN Ambro (ABN). Quanta Services is taking out InfraSource Services (IFS) for $1.26 billion. Triad (TRI) is on the move following reports that the company might receive a bid from Community Health Systems.
In other stock news, Freeport McMoran (FCX) is up after Bear Stearns upgraded the stock to "outperform" from "peer perform." TXU gained is higher on speculation that the company will receive a higher bid than the recent takeover offer from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. However, Nortel (NT) fell after the company lowered earnings guidance last Friday.
On the economic front, the National Association of Homebuilders will release its builder's confidence index [HMI] later today. The report comes a day before February housing data and two day's before the Fed's next meeting on interest rates.
Trading is quiet in other markets Monday morning. Crude oil sits unchanged near $57.10 a barrel. Gold is little moved near $654 an ounce. Bonds, which have been led around by the nose by the stock market during the past few weeks, are offered. The benchmark ten-year Treasury note is down 7 ticks. It's yield is now 4.57%. The buck is seeing gains against the euro (1.3298) and the yen (117.35).
For the stock market, the best news is probably the absence of bad news. There are no new problems in the mortgage or finance sector to report Monday morning. The mergers also helped. However, the HMI data due out later today does have market moving potential. Trading might also be cautious ahead of the housing data on Tuesday and the Fed's rate announcement on Wednesday.
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