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Markets & Finance

Stocks Finish Higher

Stocks gained ground on Monday, as bulls speculated about a fourth-quarter rally. A drop in oil prices and Treasury yields helped equities. However, some expect a technical correction this week after the steep advance last week, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 55.47 points, or 0.53%, to 10,586.23. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 2.67 points, or 0.22%, to 1,222.81. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index gained 8.81 points, or 0.41%, to 2,178.24.

In the energy markets, December West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell $1.11 to $59.47 a barrel amid unseasonably warm temperatures throughout much of the U.S.

Among sectors on the move, select rate-sensitive and cyclical groups were strong, including automobiles and homebuilding, while energy shares closed broadly lower.

In company news, Yahoo! (YHOO) and Google (GOOG) are planning new wireless services, offering features on cellphones similar to those available on computers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Yahoo and Tivo (TIVO) announced that they plan a service to let users remotely program TiVo recorders from Yahoo's site.

Guidant (GDT) shares fell after the company reported third-quarter earnings from continuing operations of 32 cents per share, vs. 63 cents a year ago, on a 14% sales drop. The medical devices maker initiated a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) seeking its obligation to complete its acquisition of the company under the terms of its merger agreement.

On the bright side, TXU (TXU) raised its 2006 operating EPS estimate to $5.50-$5.75. It also hiked its dividend and set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Qualcomm (QCOM) set a $2.5 billion stock repurchase program, replacing its previous stock repurchase program, which had approximately $1.0 billion remaining availability.

No major economic reports were due today, which could keep trading relatively subdued. This week's economic calendar is on the light side; look for updates on trade and import and export prices, consumer sentiment, and jobless claims released Thursday.

Treasury Market

Treasury yields were sideways to lower. The benchmark 10-year yield settled at 4.64%, despite earlier talk of Japanese investor interest in the T-note, says Action Economics.

World Markets

European stock markets finished higher on Monday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was up 37.2 points, or 0.69%, at 5,460.8.

Germany's DAX index gained 28.96 points, or 0.58%, to 5,024.2. In Paris, the CAC 40 index rose 4.95 points, or 0.11%, to 4,503.65.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 eased 14.36 points, or 0.10%, to 14,061.60 as the market paused after recent gains. Foreign buying, a key contributor to recent market gains, reportedly ebbed, capping potential upside, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index sank 220.00 points, or 1.51%, to 14,365.79 on profit taking. Property shares closed broadly lower, hurt by concerns that higher interest rates will adversely impact housing demand, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope. Big-cap names China Mobile, HSBC Holdings, and Hutchison Whampoa led the Hang Seng lower by index points.

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