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Updated from 9:24 a.m. EDT

Stocks in New York were easing early Monday as a slight rise in crude oil prices spurred equity buyers to take a break following the rally that ended last week.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 30 points at 11,704, and the

S&P 500

was off 3 points at 1294. The


was losing 2 points to 2412.

On Friday, U.S. stocks soared as oil continued its recent downtrend, falling 4% and settling at $115.20 a barrel. The Dow surged 302.89 points, or 2.7%, to 11,734.32, and the S&P 500 climbed 30.25 points, or 2.4%, to 1296.31. The Nasdaq was stronger by 58.37 points, or 2.5%, at 2414.10.

As the new week arrived, crude edged higher by 45 cents to $115.65 a barrel as traders kept an eye on the widening military conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Turning to the corporate side,


(VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report

, one of the 30 Dow industrials, reached new contracts with two unions and avoided a threatened strike. The company signed tentative three-year deals with the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which together represent more than 60,000 workers.

Meanwhile, several pieces of merger news were making headlines. A report from the U.K. said that package carrier

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(UPS) - Get United Parcel Service, Inc. Class B Report

was mulling a $15 billion bid for Dutch rival TNT, but UPS subsequently downplayed the speculation.

Elsewhere, garbage hauler

Waste Management

( WMI) lifted its takeover offer for

Republic Services

(RSG) - Get Republic Services, Inc. Report

to $6.73 billion. Republic rejected an earlier proposal, and it has been planning to merge with

Allied Waste

( AW).

In the technology arena,

JDA Software

( JDAS) signed a pact to buy

i2 Technologies

( ITWO) in a deal being valued at nearly $350 million.

As for analyst actions, Citigroup upgraded



to buy from sell and lifted its rating on

Qwest Communications


to buy from hold.

Solar stocks could be in focus after UBS cut its estimates for 13 names in the group. Among its moves,


(SPWR) - Get SunPower Corporation Report

was downgraded to neutral, while

Energy Conversion Devices

( ENER) was raised to buy.

Around the globe, markets were mostly higher. Major European indices were green across the board, while in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng ticked lower.

Longer-dated Treasury securities slipped. The 10-year was down 2/32 in price, yielding 3.94%, and the 30-year was losing 6/32 to yield 4.55%. The dollar was weaker against its primary competitors, with the exception of the euro.

This article was written by a staff member of