NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
U.S. stocks inched higher early Monday, bouncing off last week's declines, as investors took in news of a merger in the banking sector and an upbeat earnings forecast from Qualcomm.
After five minutes of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average (up 19.92 to 10638.95, Charts), the Standard & Poor's 500 (up 1.78 to 1145.89, Charts) index and the Nasdaq composite (up 2.22 to 2040.15, Charts) all edged higher.
The major indexes declined last week, with the Dow and the S&P 500 breaking a two-week winning streak, while the Nasdaq composite declined for the fifth consecutive week.
In corporate news, Citigroup (C: up $0.34 to $49.23, Research, Estimates) said Sunday that it would buy South Korea's Koram Bank for $2.7 billion, and that the deal would boost its 2004 earnings. Shares of the Dow component gained at the open.
Fellow Dow component Wal-Mart Stores (WMT: down $0.19 to $59.24, Research, Estimates) said it expects to hit the high end of its forecast for February sales, thanks to strong demand for its clothing.
Home improvement retailer Lowe's (LOW: down $1.37 to $57.01, Research, Estimates) reported a fourth-quarter profit of 51 cents per share, up from 40 cents a year earlier and 2 cents more than what analysts surveyed by Reuters were expecting. However, with expectations for earnings so high, the stock declined, particularly as some analysts expressed concerns about the company's quarterly sales at stores open a year or more, or "same-store sales." Same-store sales rose 7.3 percent, but analysts at J.P. Morgan and other brokerages said that was below their forecasts.
Wireless chip maker Qualcomm (QCOM: up $3.87 to $63.27, Research, Estimates) raised its forecast on second-quarter earnings, due to stronger-than-forecast shipments of its phone chipsets. The company now expects to earn between 48 cents and 50 cents per share, up from a year earlier and well above the current forecast of analysts.
Treasury prices gained modestly, pushing the 10-year note yield down to 4.08 percent from 4.09 percent late Friday. The dollar edged lower versus the yen and euro.
Brent oil futures fell 16 cents to $30.53 a barrel in London. COMEX gold rose $1.80 to trade at $399.80 an ounce.
Asian markets closed in mixed territory. European markets were higher at midday.