Markets

Stocks are heading higher in early action, led by a resurgent

Nasdaq Composite Index

.

European bourses were lower at midday.

Asian markets generally closed lower, although Japan's

Nikkei

went against the grain by gaining 94.41 to 13,992.49. Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

lost 50.60 to 9139.60.

For more markets action and news, click

here.

Companies

John D. McNamara has been named the new president of

Archer Daniels Midland

(ADM) - Get Report

. McNamara was formerly the company's vice president and head of North American oilseed processing.

The

Air Force

canceled contracts with

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

and

TRW

(TRW)

for two jobs related to the National Missile Defense system. TRW's contract was worth $683 million, and Boeing's contract was worth $148 million.

Bermuda-based insurer

XL Capital

(XL) - Get Report

is in talks to acquire reinsurance company

NAC Re

(NRC) - Get Report

in a $1 billion stock deal that would give XL Capital access to the U.S. market, reported

The Wall Street Journal

.

TSC

reporter

Dan Colarusso

saw the options play on NAC Re last month.

For more news on companies and stocks, click

here.

Tech

Motorola

(MOT)

and

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

will form a joint venture to extend the Internet capability of wireless networks.

TSC

columnist

James Cramer

warns Luddites of the deal's magnitude. Meanwhile,

Nextel Communications

(NXTL)

and

Netscape Communications

(NSCP)

will offer a product combining wireless voice and data transmission with the Internet.

For more tech news and commentary, click

here.

International

U.K. betting shop and hotel operator

Ladbroke Group

said it has agreed to buy hotel operator

Stakis

for $1.89 billion.

Royal Dutch/Shell Group

(RD)

is negotiating with Nigeria to expand its oil and natural gas production in that country through an additional $8.5 billion investment over the next five years, according to the

Financial Times

.

Saudi Arabia dashed U.S. energy companies' hopes of getting a piece of the kingdom's oil business, citing its desire to focus on the natural gas sector instead.

For more international news and commentary, click

here.

General News

More than 800,000 mourned the death of

King Hussein

as his casket was borne through the streets of Amman, Jordan.

Elsewhere

Zzzzz.... The

AFC

defeated the

NFC

23-10 in football's

Pro Bowl

. The game was highlighted by

Denver Bronco

receiver

Ed McCaffrey's

running down

Deion Sanders

at the four-yard line after Sanders had returned an interception 87 yards. McCaffrey called the tackle, " one of the biggest thrills of my career." Zzzzz....

Have a dumb question relating to finance? Great. Have a

really

dumb question? Even better. Send it to

MonEmailbag@thestreet.com, and

TSC

columnist

Herb Greenberg

and I will do our best to answer. Include your full name, and please, no questions seeking personal financial advice or regarding personal brokerage disputes. And this reminder: Because of the volume of mail, personal replies can't be guaranteed.