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Bullish Monday?
Stock futures point higher as investors look to strong start in next to last week of 2005.
December 19, 2005: 6:38 AM EST

NEW YORK ( - Stocks look set for a solid start Monday as investors look for a resumption of the end-of-year rally on news of a couple of deals and a big court win for a Dow component.

Stockfutures rose, pointing to a higher open on Wall Street, as U.S. markets could get a lift from gains in overseas stocks, as Asia markets closed higher and European stocks were mixed in early trading.

Stocks in the U.S. ended mixed last week as the market has struggled to regain its footing after November's big rally.

The Dow Jones industrial average could get a lift from drugmaker Pfizer (Research), which late Friday won a court victory upholding the validity of two key U.S. patents on Lipitor, its cholesterol-lowering drug that is one of the world's biggest selling medicines..

The ruling is likely to delay plans by an Indian drugmaker to introduce a generic version of the medicine. Shares of Pfizer gained 10 percent in after-hours trading Friday.

Shares of the Indian drugmaker, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., sank 6 percent on Monday.

Time Warner is reportedly close to a deal to sell a 5 percent stake in America Online, its online unit, to search engine Google (Research) for $1 billion in cash, along with closer ties between the two in ad sales.

The deal, which reportedly could be formally announced this week, would be instead of an agreement between Time Warner (Research) and Microsoft (Research), which had also been discussed.

The deal, which was first reported in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal late in the trading day Friday, helped lift shares of Time Warner in after-hours trading and dented Microsoft shares after-hours as well. CNN/Money is a unit of Time Warner.

FPL (Research) announced early Monday that it had reached an agreement to buy Constellation Energy (Research) in an $11 billion stock deal that the companies say will create the nation's No. 2 electric utility.

The deal, which was widely reported last week, pays little premium from Friday's closing price but the companies' statement says it pays a 15 percent premium on the 20-day average price ending Dec. 13.

Oil prices edged higher in early trading, after falling below $59 a barrel Friday.

The January light crude futures contract gained 45 cents to $58.51 a barrel in electronic trading, while the February contract for Brent crude added 39 cents to $57.52.

Bond prices were little change, leaving the yield on the 10-year treasury at the 4.44 percent level reached late Friday. The dollar gained against the yen but was little changed against the euro.

For a more detailed look at the markets before the open, click here.  Top of page

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