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Stocks Remain Lower After Leading Indicators

The drive for Dow 10,000 hit a bump on the road Monday as investors took a breather, sending stocks down more than half a percent at the opening bell.

Stocks remained lower after a report showed leading indicators rose 0.6 percent in August, the fifth straight monthly gain and highest reading since January 2008. This came after a revised 0.9-percent gain in July and was slightly lower than the 0.7-percent uptick economists had expected.

Big deal news this morning: Dell said it is buying Perot Systemsfor $3.9 billion in cash and plans a tender launch for all of the computer-services company's Class A shares for $30 a share.

Perot shares jumped more than 50 percent, while Dell dropped.

The Dow ended within 200 points of the 10,000 mark last week, its best weekly performance in two months. The Dow hasn't closed over 10,000 in nearly a year (Oct. 3, 2008). Investors may well bide their time before the 2-day FOMC policy meeting begins Tuesday.

The week begins with a relatively light economic calendar, but the Conference Board will be releasing its August index of leading economic indicators at 10 am New York time. Consensus estimates call for the forward-looking index to have risen by 0.7 percent last month.

President Obama will speak on the economy at 11:50pm ET.

Several Fed-related speeches are also on Monday's calendar: Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker speaks to the Risk Management Association in Charlotte, NC at 12:30 pm, while San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen will speak on the economic outlook and monetary policy in a San Francisco Speech just before 4 pm.

Dow component and CNBC parent General Electric was once again in the spotlight as Vivendi is keeping mum on its plans for its 20-percent stake in GE's NBC Universal. The buzz in the market is that it may sell the stake.

Applied Materials, the biggest maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, could be a stock to watch today, as it holds an investor briefing in Hamburg, Germany. That event will begin around 10 am.

Also on the watch list: casino operator Wynn Resorts, which is reportedly set to increase the size of its Hong Kong IPO for its Macau casino assets, as it seeks to raise about $1.6 billion.

On the earnings front, homebuilder Lennar reported its loss widened but said new orders are on the rise.

- Peter Schacknow contributed to this article.

This Week:

MONDAY: Leading indicators; Obama speech on economy (11:50pm ET)
TUESDAY: Two-year auction; two-day Fed meeting begins
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; weekly crude inventories
THURSDAY: G-20 summit begins; weekly jobless claims; existing-home sales; seven-year auction; Earnings from RIM
FRIDAY: Durable-goods orders; consumer sentiment; new-home sales; Earnings from KB Home

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.