Stocks: 4 things to know before the open

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Markets appear ready to start the week with a whimper, continuing last week's uninspired performance.

Here are the four things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:

U.S. stock futures were practically flat as investors showed little interest in getting their feet wet.

"I think the market is somewhat apprehensive coming into this week because of the amount of data that we're likely to see going into the week," said Tom Beevers, chief executive officer of StockViews.

He was referring to the gross domestic product and monthly payroll reports due later this week, as well as the meeting of the Federal Reserve policy meeting scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. He said that investors are trying to gauge "when the first rate increase is going to occur."

1. Merger Monday: housing and discount shopping: Zillow (Z) confirmed that it plans to buy Trulia (TRLA) for $3.5 billion in stock. The acquisition merges the two biggest names in online housing, and CNNMoney reported last week that some real estate agents were nervous that the sites' combined depth of local housing data could make in-person brokers irrelevant. Shares of Trulia surged 15% in premarket trading. Zillow was halted around the announcement.

Family Dollar (FDO) shares surged more than 25% on news that it's getting bought by another discount retailer, Dollar Tree (DLTR), for $8.5 billion. Dollar Tree's stock climbed over 11% premarket.

Related: Fear & Greed Index backslides to fear

2. Stocks to watch: Tyson Foods (TSN) reported earnings before the bell. The stock was up nearly 4% on plans to sell its Mexican and Brazilian poultry units for $575 million. Herbalife (HLF) will report after the close. T

McDonald's (MCD) continues to be embroiled in a rotten meat scandal in China. Shares of the fast food chain have dropped 3.3% in the week since a longtime McDonald's meat supplier was accused of processing expired meat.

Keep an eye on another American fast food chain, El Pollo Loco (LOCO), to see if it continues to fly high -- shares surged more than 60% in its first day of trading Friday.

Related: CNNMoney's Tech 30

3. International markets: Most European markets were mixed in afternoon trading, with France's CAC 40 up 0.3.%.

Russia's Micex index was lower after an arbitration panel in the Hague ruled against the state, finding the government had illegally sold off the assets of oil company Yukos. Former major shareholders were awarded $50 billion in damages.

Most Asian markets advanced Monday, led by a 2.4% surge on China's benchmark Shanghai Composite. Stocks in Mumbai fell 0.8% in afternoon trading.

4. Friday U.S. markets recap: U.S. stocks fell Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down almost 130 points while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished the day off about 0.5%. The three major indexes ended the week little changed.

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