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Merger Activity Trumps FOMC Anxiety

Elsewhere, shares of mining company Phelps Dodge (PD) dropped 0.7% on news that hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors bought a stake and opposes its purchase by Freeport-McMoRan (FCX). SAC owns a 5.1% stake in Phelps Dodge. Shares of Freeport declined 0.7%.

Among other stocks in the news, Citigroup (C) gained 2% on news that the company made an initial bid for British online bank Egg, a division of the insurance company Prudential. (After the bell, Citigroup shares were recently down 1.3% on news Robert Druskin, currently head of its investment-banking group, has been named COO. Sallie Krawcheck remains on board as CFO of the banking colossus, which has been the subject of much speculation in recent days.)

Citigroup won't report earnings this week, but some other financial giants will, and expectations run high for a winning fourth quarter. Goldman Sachs (GS) kicks off the season Tuesday, and Bear Stearns (BSC), Morgan Stanley (MS), Merrill Lynch (MER) and Lehman Brothers (LEH) will follow.

Goldman's shares were down 1.3% Monday ahead of its report. Skeptics say the brokerage stocks don't have that much farther to go, as shares of these companies have soared and supported the broad market on the back of trading revenue and M&A deals, as well as equity and debt financings. The Amex Securities Broker/Dealer index is up 24% thus far this year.

Even with such bullish news from the nexus of the nation's rain-makers, economists and investors are nervous about U.S. growth going forward and still hope for a rate cut or two as long as inflation is no longer a threat.

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