Stocks poised for positive open

By CNNMoney.com staff


NEW YORK(CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stock futures climbed early Monday, boosted by a flurry of deal activity and economic optimism.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were all higher ahead of the opening bell. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance.

An upbeat mood has taken hold on Wall Street lately. U.S. stocks soared Friday, and are poised to end September with the biggest monthly gains in more than a year.

With little on the economic calendar Monday, all eyes are on deals announced by Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart and Unilever before the bell.

Those agreements, along with continued optimism about the Small Business Jobs Act passed by Congress on Thursday, are likely to keep stocks moving higher, said Tim Speiss, chairman of EisnerAmper Personal Wealth Advisors.

"Last week was a very good week for the market, and I think it would be very hard to argue that there's not a recovery underway," Speiss said.

President Obama is scheduled to sign the small business bill Monday afternoon.

Companies: Southwest Airlines (LUV, Fortune 500) announced a $1.4 billion offer for AirTran Holdings (AAI), the parent company of AirTran Airways. The bid amounts to a 69% premium over AirTran's Friday closing price. The announcement sent AirTran stock surging nearly 65%. Shares of Southwest fell 0.7%.

Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) announced a bid to acquire Johannesburg-based retailer Massmart Holdings Limited for roughly $4 billion. Massmart operates 290 stores in 13 countries in Africa. A deal has not yet been agreed to.

Consumer goods giant Unilever said it was buying Alberto Culver (ACV), manufacturer of the Tresemme and Noxzema brands, for $3.7 billion.

World markets: European stocks were mixed in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1%, but Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 were up 0.1% in the early going.

Asian markets finished the session with strong gains. Japan's Nikkei and the Shanghai Composite climbed 1.4%, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rallied 1%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar rose against the euro and Japanese yen, and was down slightly versus the British pound.

The price of oil for November delivery rose 40 cents to $76.89 per barrel.

Gold futures for December delivery were up $2.60 at $1,300.70 an ounce.

Bonds: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.57% from 2.61% late Tuesday. To top of page

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