Early Movers: MRK, GSK, AAPL, MSFT, BMY & More

Check out which companies are making headlines before the bell on Monday:

The weekend meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology puts a number of drug makers on our stocks to watch list, based on positive announcements about drugs in the development pipeline. These include:

Merck — A Merck melanoma drug helped shrink tumors in 38 percent of patients with advanced melanoma in an early stage study. Merck will now move directly into a late-stage clinical trial for the drug, known as lambrolizumab.

GlaxoSmithkline — Glaxo's Votrient was found to delay relapses in ovarian cancer patients, a finding that may lead to the drug being used as maintenance therapy.

Amgen — Amgen's melanoma drug T-Vec was shown in an interim trial to improve survival in certain skin cancer patients by 21 percent compared with standard treatment.

Bristol-Myers Squibb — An experimental Bristol drug shrank tumros in 31 percent of patients with advanced melanoma in an early stage trial.

Other stocks to watch:

Apple — The tech giant will be in court today, defending itself against charges that it conspired to fix prices of electronic books. Separately, the Wall Street Journal reports Apple is getting closer to debuting a streaming music radio service.

Microsoft — The maker of Windows 8 and the X-Box is working on what may turn into a significant restructuring of the company, according to All Things Digital.

MAA , Colonial Properties Trust — The two real estate investment trusts will merge in a stock swap deal, creating a company with a combined market capitalization of $5.1 billion. Both specialize in multi-family housing units.

Cracker Barrel — The restaurant chain reported fiscal third quarter profit of $1.02 per share, eight cents above estimates, with revenue also beating consensus. Cracker Barrel also raised its yearly forecast, as well as its quarterly dividend, after a quarter that saw strong sales and earnings growth.

AIG — The insurance giant is fighting against approval of Bank of America's $8.5 billion mortgage settlement with investors, with the issue headed for a New York State court this morning. A judge will decide whether to approve the settlement, but AIG wants Bank of America to pay billions more to settle other claims related to mortgage securities.

Rio Tinto — Rio is drawing suitors for its Canadian iron ore operations, according to the Wall Street Journal. Rio Tinto's stake is valued at about $4 billion, with Glencore Xstrata and Blackstone Group (BX) among the possible bidders.

Best Buy — The stock was upgraded to "buy" from "neutral" at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

MetLife — Deutsche Bank upgraded the insurer's stock to "buy" from "hold", saying the company is well-positioned and that it's not concerned with downside risk despite current interest rate trends.

(Read More: See CNBC's Market Insider Blog)

—By CNBC's Peter Schacknow

Questions? Comments? Email us at marketinsider@cnbc.com

  • Patti Domm

    Patti Domm is CNBC Executive Editor, News, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy.

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