Stocks: Keeping a slow crawl going

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U.S. stocks head for another quiet day Monday, possibly continuing a slow summer advance that has put stocks at their highest levels in more than four years.

U.S. stock futures were flat.

Trading volume has been low over the past few days, with many investors on vacation and little news out of Europe.

Even as fewer shares change hands, the Federal Reserve will once again take center stage this week when it releases minutes from its July meeting on Tuesday. While the Fed didn't announce any further stimulus measures at the meeting, investors will look for clues about whether quantitative easing could be coming when chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at a Jackson Hole, Wyo., symposium at the end of the month.

Investors will also keep an eye on news out of Europe, as Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras meets with top eurozone officials throughout the week. Samaras is expected to push for a two-year extension of Greece's bailout program, which would give the government more time to implement difficult reforms.

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U.S. stocks ended higher Friday, capping off a sixth straight week of gains. Stocks have been trading near the highest levels since May 2008.

World Markets: European stocks were mixed in midday trading. Britain's FTSE 100 edged lower by 0.3 % and France's CAC 40 fell 0.2%, while the DAX in Germany ticked up 0.2%.

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.4% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong shaved off 0.1%, while Japan's Nikkei ended up 0.1%.

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Companies: Lowe's (LOW) second-quarter earnings missed expectations, falling 10% over the same period a year ago, the home improvement retailer reported Monday. Shares were down over 7% on the news in premarket trading.

Aetna (AET) is buying Coventry Health Care for $5.7 billion in cash and stock. The deal would make Aetna one of the largest providers of government-financed health care.

Apple (AAPL) shares set another all-time high Friday on growing expectations for an upcoming wave of new gadgets. Shares were up slightly in premarket trading.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar rose against the euro and the British pound, but slid against the Japanese yen.

Oil for September delivery rose 12 cents to $96.13 a barrel.

Gold futures for December delivery fell $2.30 cents to $1,617.10 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was unchanged, with the yield holding at 1.82% from late Friday.

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