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The major market averages were higher at midmorning amid a rush of merger and acquisition news.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 26 to 9366, while the

S&P 500

was up 5 to 1245.


Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 2 to 2286. The small-cap

Russell 2000

was up 3 to 395. Internet Sector

was up 3 to 474. E-Commerce Index

was up 1 to 96.

The 30-year Treasury bond was up 8/32 to 98 10/32, yielding 5.37%.

In M&A news, a couple of big deals were announced in the energy sector.

Dominion Resources

(D) - Get Free Report

is buying

Consolidated Natural Gas


for $6.3 billion in stock. The new company will be the nation's fourth-largest electric and natural gas utility, the companies said. Consolidated is one of the nation's largest producers, transporters, distributors and retail marketers of natural gas. Richmond, Va.-based Dominion was down 1 3/4 to 40 1/2, while Consolidated, based in Pittsburgh, was down 5/16 to 55 15/16.


Sempra Energy

(SRE) - Get Free Report

is acquiring

KN Energy


, a natural gas company based in Lakewood, Colo., for $1.8 billion in cash and stock. The deal also calls for Sempra assuming $4.2 billion in KN Energy debt. The companies see the deal closing in six to eight months. San Diego-based Sempra is an energy services holding company.

News of the deals helped lift the

American Stock Exchange Natural Gas Index


Brokerage stocks were soaring. The

American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index

was up 3%. Retail stocks were enjoying solid gains. The

S&P Retail Index

was up 1%.

Elsewhere, transportation stocks gained. The

Dow Jones Transportation Average

was up 2%.

Meanwhile, lurking in the background of today's action is

Federal Reserve


Alan Greenspan's

upcoming semiannual


testimony on the state of the economy, which is slated to kick off tomorrow.

As for activity, some market participants grumbled the market lacked direction and was listless.

"This is a sort of a continuation of last week," said Peter Coolidge, managing director of trading at

Brean Murray Foster Securities

. He said activity so far was lackluster with not much direction.

"We're not seeing a lot of activity one way or another."

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, advancers were beating decliners 1,600 to 943 on 174 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

winners were beating losers 1,685 to 1,414 on 218 million shares.

On the NYSE, 29 issues had set new 52-week lows while 13 had touched new highs. On the Nasdaq, 35 issues had set new lows while new highs totaled 23.

On the Big Board,

America Online


was most active with 39 million shares changing hands. It was up 4 9/16 to 164 15/16. AOL unit


is expected to unveil a major makeover of its online offerings, in an effort to sell itself to advertisers as an elite and upscale corner of the Net,

The Wall Street Journal


On the Nasdaq,


(DELL) - Get Free Report

was most active on volume of 10 million shares. It was up 1/4 to 80 7/16.

9:55 a.m.: Stocks Open Modestly Higher

Stocks opened slightly higher as Wall Street digests a slew of merger and acquisition news.

Looming ahead tomorrow,

Federal Reserve


Alan Greenspan

kicks off his semiannual


testimony on the state of the economy.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up 13 to 9353. The

S&P 500

was up 3 to 1242. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

was up 1 to 2284. The

Russell 2000

was up 2 to 394. Internet Sector

was down 2 to 470. E-Commerce Index

was up 1 to 96.

The benchmark 30-year Treasury bond was up 6/32 to 98 8/32, yielding 5.37%.


BancBoston Robertson Stephens'

16th annual

Technology Conference

kicks off today in San Francisco. previewed the conference in a story


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Most Up at Open -- Nasdaq

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Most Down at Open -- NYSE

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Most Down at Open -- Nasdaq

Vignette (VIGN) , down 4 5/16 to 38 3/8