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

Stocks are setting a positive tone ahead of the opening even as oil continues its move up. Merger news, real and rumored, dominates the Monday morning headlines.

Ringing Up a Deal?

Vodafone says not. The Financial Times this morning caused a stir with a report that Vodafone has been weighing a bid for Verizon, a deal that could total $160 billion. Vodafone though says it has no plans to make an offer for Verizon .

IHOP plans to buy Applebee's for $2.1 billion. IHOP CEO Julia Stewart was formerly with Applebee's but left after being passed over for the chief operating officer.

In ongoing sagas, the Wall Street Journal reports that as News Corp. and Dow Jones wind down their merger dance and near a deal, a member of the controlling Bancroft family is making a last-ditch effort to find another buyer.

The Royal Bank of Scotland bidding group lifted the cash portion of its bid for ABN Amro.
Rumors of deals swirled in the market Friday and no doubt the chatter will continue today. There were more than a few big names attached to rumors of private equity or strategic deals.

One stock rumored to be a target is Alcoa , after its failed bid for Alcan.

Withering Dollar?

The dollar is once more losing ground to the euro after the European Union released data showing inflation is tame.

Although the crumpling dollar is likely to boost the earnings of some major companies this quarter, CNBC's Rick Santelli says it is a factor to keep an eye on. A weak dollar "is highly inflationary," he says. "It diminishes the U.S. consumer's buying horsepower."

Oil Drill

Oil is creeping toward $75 a barrel this morning. The Wall Street Journal reports that a draft of a report commissioned by the government on oil and gas supplies says that conventional sources are unlikely to keep up with rising demand over the next 25 years.

Cambridge Energy Research Chairman Dan Yergin says the report, to be released Wednesday "will deliver what it calls a series of 'hard truths' about the future of energy." Yergin is a vice chair of the study which was commissioned by the Department of Energy.

Yergin, CNBC's global energy analyst, says the study is the most far reaching the National Petroleum Council has produced since it was founded by President Truman right after World War II.

Trillion Dollars

If you asked a group of people who controlled a trillion dollars, or more in this case, what they thought about the stock market this year, they'd no doubt tell you what strategists and money markets surveyed by CNBC say. Strategists and money managers say they expect stocks will end the year with the Dow closer to 14,500 than 14,000. They also think a Democrat will win the White House and that the Fed's next move will be a cut in rates, not a hike. See more on the important new survey on