Stocks were higher early Monday as last week's bulls romped past options expiration and welcomed stable interest rates, lower oil and strong overseas sessions. Index futures recently showed the S&P 500 trading 2 points above fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 6-point gain. The 10-year Treasury bond was unchanged in price to yield 4.68%, while the dollar was flat against the yen and euro after steadily falling last week. Monday's trading reflects anticipation of Oracle's ( ORCL) third-quarter earnings report, which is due after the bell. The business software giant is expected to report an operating profit of 18 cents a share on sales of $3.55 billion. Oil, which rose last week as tensions built in a handful of overseas hotspots, was lower, extending a reaction to Friday's reduced demand forecast by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. April crude was recently down 42 cents to $62.35 a barrel. Foreign markets were higher, with London's FTSE 100 recently adding 0.5% to 6028 and Germany's Xetra DAX rising 0.7% to 5921. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei rose 1.7% overnight to 16,625, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng adding 0.9% to 15,930. Stocks showed broad strength last week, with blue chips closing Friday near five-year highs. For the five sessions, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 203 points, or 2%, to 11,279, while the S&P 500 rose 25 points, or 2%, to 1307. The Nasdaq Composite added 44 points to 2306. Monday's economic news includes the index of leading indicators at 10 a.m. EST and a speech by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to the Economic Club of New York tonight. On Tuesday, investors will see the Labor Department's producer price index for February. Google ( GOOG) could trade higher after a federal judge turned down the government's request to force the search giant to turn over a selection of queries entered by users. In a partial victory, Google was ordered to provide 50,000 randomly chosen Web addresses to investigators trying to enforce an anti-child pornography law. To view David Peltier's video take on today's premarket action,
click here .
General Motors' ( GM) board wants more information on what led the automaker to underestimate its 2005 loss by $2 billion. Directors called for an investigation of the error following a conference call held to review the disclosure on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported. Hospital operator Health Management Associates ( HMA) updated its 2006 earnings guidance Monday, saying it expects to turn a profit of $1.43 to $1.49 a share during the year, including a net 7-cent charge. The Thomson First Call consensus is $1.49 a share. HMA said patient volume is growing less briskly than previously anticipated.