Updated from 9:07 a.m. EST

A day before the U.S. elects a new president, stocks staged a flat open Monday, as traders digested news of several merger setbacks prepared for another week full of quarterly

earnings statements

and turned their eyes toward Tuesday's

presidential election

.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 1.5 points at 9323, and the

S&P 500

was lower by 1.9 points at 967. The

Nasdaq

slipped 1.6 points to 1718.

Looking through corporate headlines,

The Wall Street Journal

reported that as many as 1,800 public companies could be signing up for investments by the

Treasury Department

under the

Troubled Asset Relief Program

.

Meanwhile, leveraged-buyout firm

Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts

was delaying plans to come public as the credit crisis hurt its capitalization standing. KKR said in a statement it would hold off on buying Amsterdam-listed

KKR Private Equity

until next year.

In other merger news,

The Detroit News

reported that

Cerberus Capital

, which owns

Chrysler

, has ceased discussions with

Nissan-Renault

because Cerberus intends on merging with

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

.

Agricultural products maker

Monsanto

(MON)

announced its intent to buy Brazilian firm

Aly Participacoes

for $290 million.

Less fortunate among agricultural names was

Verasun Energy

(VSE)

, which said late Friday it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Soft-drink maker

PepsiCo

(PEP) - Get Report

announced it would invest $1 billion in China over the next four years in an effort to gain a foothold in emerging markets.

Airplane manufacturer

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

announced that a strike by the International Association of Machinists had ended after the company and union signed a four-year contract.

As for earnings, insurer

PMI Group

(PMI)

reported a wider third-quarter loss, and

Goodyear Tire

(GT) - Get Report

announced a decline in quarterly profit.

In terms of economic data, the census bureau is set to release its construction spending figures for September. Also due out is the Institute for Supply Management's October manufacturing index.

The European Commission also reported that Europe is probably in a recession and will continue to struggle through the next year.

Shifting to commodities, crude oil was losing $1.73 to $66.08 a barrel. Gold was climbing $8.70 to $726.90 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were mixed. The 10-year was up 15/32, yielding 3.91%. The 30-year was dropping 6/32 to yield 4.34%. The dollar was falling vs. the yen but gaining on the euro and pound.

Credit markets were loosening. Three-month dollar Libor, a measure of the rate banks charge one another for large loans, was down 17 basis points to 2.86%. Overnight Libor slipped 2 basis points to 0.39%.

Abroad, European exchanges were mixed, as the FTSE in London lost ground but the Dax held to a fractional gain. In

Asia

, Japan's Nikkei was closed for a holiday, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished on the upside.

(

Photo gallery: Trading Faces

)