Stocks poised for modest gains

Trading expected to be light on Jewish holiday. Abbott Laboratories, Xerox in focus after merger deals.

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When Wall Street nearly collapsed
Would panic prevail? That was the question gripping the world in the days surrounding the fall of Lehman Brothers on Sept. 15, 2008. One year after that terrifying Monday, the people who struggled to cope with the financial crisis share what they were thinking as chaos broke out.

NEW YORK ( -- U.S. stocks were poised for small gains Monday, as investors digested a pair of multi-billion dollar mergers.

At 7:10 a.m. ET, S&P 500, Nasdaq-100 and Dow Jones industrial average futures were modestly higher.

Futures measure current index values against their perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins.

Stocks, which have been on the upswing for 6-1/2 months, hit some resistance last week and are at a tipping point.

There's little in the way of economic and earnings news due out Monday and trading volumes could also be diminished by the Yom Kippur holiday.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies & Co., said that futures trading appears to be inspired by the merger deals involved Xerox and Abbott Laboratories.

"I think we've got a market that's being stimulated by ongoing M&A activity," said Hogan. "You've got back-to-back multi-billion dollar acquisitions that might set the tone for an otherwise quiet Monday."

Companies: Abbott Laboratories (ABT, Fortune 500) agreed to pay $6.6 billion in cash for the pharma unit of Belgian rival Solvay.

Abbott's stock price lifted about 2% in pre-market trading.

Also, Xerox (XRX, Fortune 500) announced a cash-and-stock deal to buy Affiliated Computer Services (ACS, Fortune 500), a business process outsourcing firm, for $6.4 billion.

Xerox dipped slightly in pre-market trading.

World markets: Global stock indexes pulled back. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei tumbled 2.5%. European shares were mostly lower in morning trading, although stocks in Germany were slightly higher.

Money and oil: The dollar rose against most major international currencies, including the euro and the pound, but slipped versus the yen.

The price of oil slipped 32 cents a barrel to $65.70.

Meanwhile, gas prices continue to fall. On Monday, the motorist group AAA reported that the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded fell to $2.499, down half a cent from the previous day. It's the seventh consecutive decrease to the national average. To top of page

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