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CNBC's Domm: Today's Agenda in the Markets

U.S. stocks futures are slightly firmer ahead of the opening in a market still cranky about credit worries and pondering the Fed's next move. European stock markets are mixed after trading lower this morning, and Asian stocks were lower overnight.

Not-So-Gentle Ben

One of the biggest topics of discussion in the markets has been what the Fed will say tomorrow after its meeting and will it bail the markets out with a rate cut in the next couple of months?

CNBC conducted a snap survey of economists to gauge their views. Senior economic correspondent Steve Liesman will report on the survey today and shared one of the findings. A majority of the economists surveyed believe that "(Fed Chairman Ben) Bernanke will be tougher than (former Fed Chairman Alan) Greenspan and will be less likely to come to the rescue of markets," says Liesman.

Oil Slick

Oil is down more than $1 per barrel as the subprime drama and fears of a U.S. economic slowdown have speculators betting demand will slacken.

The dollar is lower and is closing in on record lows against the euro.

Out at Bear

Bear Stearns' hedge fund mess claimed a high-profile victim as co-president Warren Spector was seemingly forced out of the firm over the weekend. Spector was widely viewed as the heir apparent to 73-year-old CEO James Cayne. Spector, 49, is being replaced by his co-president Alan Schwartz, who will solo in the post.

In at Chrysler

Cerberus named ex-Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli as CEO of Chrysler . Nardelli, who left Home Depot under fire for his fat pay package and the retailer's slumping performance, now can drive Chrysler while free of the need to please public shareholders.

Merrill in the Middle

Merrill's stock got a sweet upgrade to "buy" from "neutral" at UBS this morning. The stock is indicated higher after UBS said Merrill offers stability and diversification. It said dislocations in the mortgage and credit businesses are already mostly discounted in its stock price.

Bankrupt

American Home Mortgage , which saw its business suddenly evaporate, filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court this morning.

Strategic Deals

Merger news abounds this Monday morning, with the striking lack of private equity deals we have come to expect. In the ongoing ABN Amro saga, Barclay's detailed its $89 billion stock and cash offer while Fortis shareholders voted in favor of the bank's plan to participate in a bid for ABN with the rival Royal Bank of Scotland bidding group.

Imperial Chemical of Britain agreed to open its books to Dutch Akzo Nobel and Germany's Henkel after the two firms raised an indicative bid for ICI to $16 billion.

Fast Retailing of Japan, meanwhile, raised its offer for Barney's to $950 million, topping rival bidder Istithmar's offer.

Bourne to Run

"The Bourne Ultimatum" made box office history this weekend when it took in $70 million, the biggest August opening ever.