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Waiting For Key News

Bob Pisani is off all week - this post was written by CNBC producer Robert Hum

Stocks saw a fairly flat open ahead of some key events later today. Just after 1pm ET, the U.S. Government will announce results of its latest auction of 10-year Treasury notes. Then at 2pm ET the Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book report on current economic conditions in its 12 districts. This comes ahead of President Obama’s widely-anticipated speechto a joint session of Congress on his healthcare reform proposals at 8pm ET.

While stocks continue to hover near their highest levels since October, the U.S. Dollar Index continues to hit new 52-week lows. The dollar’s decline (now down 4 straight days) is pushing commodities slightly higher in early trading, with gold rising above the $1,000/ounce level once again.

Meanwhile, gold mining giant Barrick Gold is betting that gold will continue to rise further. Last night, it announced that it was planning to issue $3 billion in stock via a secondary offering and use the proceeds to exit all of its current gold hedges within the next year. These gold hedges typically force companies to sell gold future contracts at a price lower than the present spot price.

Elsewhere:

1) Talbots soars 12 percent after reporting a narrower-than-expected Q2 loss (loss of $0.33 vs. loss of $0.52 est.). While same-store sales plunged 25 percent during the quarter, the women’s apparel chain’s heavy cost cuts and better inventory management help the company beat the Street’s forecasts.

For its third quarter, Talbots sees a loss between $0.24 and $0.30, but that’s better than the loss of $0.31 analysts are expecting.

This Day 1 Year Ago - A CNBC Special Report - See Complete Coverage
This Day 1 Year Ago - A CNBC Special Report - See Complete Coverage

2) UPS is up 2 percent following an upgrade by JPMorgan. Raising the shipping company to “overweight,” the brokerage firm notes that the stock’s price has not yet risen to levels that reflect improvements in the economy. Additionally, it believes UPS has “room to surprise on the upside in terms of margin and EPS” next year.

3) An executive from Dow component Boeing sees global air cargo traffic resuming growth next year after two years of declines. Jim Edgar, Boeing’s regional director of cargo marketing said he expects “the U.S. and China to lead the worldwide recovery, followed by the EU, UK, and Japan.”

4) McDonald’s is down 2 percent as it reported a disappointing 2.2 percent rise in August global same-store sales. Comp. store sales in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa fell 0.5%, offsetting a 3.5 percent gain in Europe and a 1.7 percent rise in the U.S.

5) Mortgage applications popped an impressive 17 percent in the last week amid a decline in interest rates, according to the latest Mortgage Bankers Association report.

While 30-year fixed rates fell to 5.02 percent from 5.15 percent in the prior week, mortgage applications saw its best weekly rise since the middle of March, as a 22.5 percent surge in refinancings led the way. Additionally, applications for new mortgages were up 9.5 percent for its biggest rise since early April.

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