Takeover activity, weaker oil and a firmer U.S. dollar are building the foundation for a higher stock market open today as investors focus on the Fed's meeting tomorrow. European shares are rising amid a flurry of deal talk, and Tokyo stocks ended higher as the yen weakened against the dollar overnight. The dollar is holding steady against the Euro. The Dow, S&P and Nasdaq all gained about one percent last week.
HOLIDAY CENTRAL: CNBC's second holiday central retail survey is out today and shows that consumers are procrastinating this year. Steve Liesman will report on the survey throughout the day. The Wall Street Journalreports today is expected to be the busiest day of the holiday season for cyber shopping. Comscore says that during the first 38 days of the shopping season, consumers have spent $15.6 billion on line, up 25 percent from last year.
Meanwhile, Reuters quotes America's Research Group chairman Britt Beemer as saying he thinks holiday sales will rise 2.7 percent this year, down from a forecast of 3.1 percent he made in November. Reuters says this is just the fourth time Beemer has adjusted his forecast during the season in 20 years. Marketwatch quotes FTI consulting retail analyst Kevin Regan as saying gift card sales are expected to jump to $25 to $30 billion from $19 billion last year.
HIS CURRENCY RISING? Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's comments today at an Office of Thrift Supervision event will be watched closely after his interview Friday with our Maria Bartiromo gave a boost of confidence to the U.S. dollar. The Fed is also in focus but it is not expected to make any change in rates after its meeting tomorrow.
CHINA OPENING DOOR: China today moves to allow foreign banks enter its huge domestic market, four days before Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and a group of cabinet members meet Chinese officials in Beijing. Our Carl Quintanilla will be there. China central bank governor Zhou Xiachuan told a financial forum today that Paulson raised the requirement to have an economic dialogue and that China is "prepared to give a very positive and active response to that."
MERGER MONDAY: In deals today, private equity firms are in talks to buy Sabre Holdings, the airline reservation system. Brazil's Compendia Siderurgica Nacional made a bid for Anglo-Dutch Corus Group, besting a raised offer from India's Tata Steel.Harrah's board is set to review bids for the casino company Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Rumors of restructuring and management shakeup continue to circle Citigroup which moved up in very active trading Friday. Bloomberg this morning quotes sources saying that Robert Druskin, head ofCitigroup'scorporate and investment bank could be moving to a more senior role.