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Stocks Head Higher; XTO Deal Boosts Energy

Stocks opened slightly positive Monday as investors grew less jittery about the situation in Dubai and a big merger deal helped juice the energy sector.

ExxonMobil announced plans to acquire XTO Energy in an all-stock deal valued at $31 billion.

While the deal hit ExxonMobil shares it boosted XTO as well as the SPDR Energy ETF, which gained more than 1.5 percent in early trading.

Investors also cheered news that Abu Dhabi would provide $10 billion of surprise aidto debt-burdened neighbor Dubai.

In financial news, Citigroup is reportely close to a deal to repay over $10 billion of its loan from the government.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley said on Sunday that it has hired former Merrill Lynch operating chief Gregory Fleming to run its investment management unit.

Britain's Cadbury said it has interest from other bidders after raising its growth targets and reporting upbeat trading as it dismissed a $16.5 billion bid from Kraft Foods .

Google announced plans to sell its own mobile phone direct to consumers as soon as next year, bypassing wireless operators in a rare strategic move, the Wall Street Journal cited sources as saying on Saturday.

Amazon.com shares slipped after Barron's praises the company's operations but said its stock was too pricey.

Visa shares jumped after Robert W. Baird upgraded the company's stock to "outperform" from "neutral."

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

And Accenture on Sunday said it plans to end its six-year sponsorship arrangement with golfer Tiger Woods.

Elsewhere, President Obama is to meet with executives of top U.S. banks to push them to step up small-business lending and back legislation to overhaul regulations for the sector.

In an interview with the CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sunday, Obama condemned the bonuses bankers are receiving, saying: "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street."

After the meeting with the bankers, scheduled to start at 11:10 am New York time, Obama will make a public statement about the economy, the White House said.

The Federal Reserve starts a two-day meeting on Tuesday and is likely to keep rates unchanged near zero. But the key factor will be whether the Fed will reiterate its dovish bias.

This Week:

MONDAY: Obama meets with bankers
TUESDAY: GE annual outlook meeting; Fed's two-day meeting begins; producer prices; Empire State manuf. survey; industrial production; housing-market index; Earnings from Best Buy, Adobe
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps; consumer prices; housing starts; current account; weekly crude inventories; Fed announcement; Earnings from Hovnanian
THURSDAY: Bank of Japan monetary policy meeting; Bernanke confirmation vote; weekly jobless claims; leading indicators; Philly Fed survey; Earnings from FedEx, Rite Aid, Oracle, Palm and RIMM
FRIDAY: Bank of Japan meeting continues; U.S. budget deadline; quadruple witching

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.

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