Buyout Deluge Lifts Stocks

Stocks were poised to pop early Monday as recent whipping boy Dell ( DELL) was upgraded and two big acquisitions rocked the healthcare and computer-chip sectors.

Index futures recently showed the S&P 500 trading 3 points above fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 6-point jump. The 10-year Treasury bond lost 3/32 in price to yield 5.05%, while the dollar rose against the yen and euro.

Overseas stocks were mixed, with London's FTSE 100 recently up 1% to 5775 and Germany's Xetra DAX rising 0.9% to 5500. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell 0.2% overnight to 14,795, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1% to 16,481.

Oil fell as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived early the Middle East to press diplomatic efforts in Lebanon toward a ceasefire in the conflict with Israel. In electronic Nymex trading, September crude fell 78 cents to $73.65 a barrel. Gold futures lost $4.50 to $615.70 an ounce.

Stocks are coming off another bumpy week in which dovish congressional testimony from Ben Bernanke ran into a handful of earnings disappointments in the tech sector. For the five sessions, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.2% and the S&P 500 added 0.3%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.8%.

In what could be the biggest corporate buyout ever, three private equity outfits are reportedly close to taking hospital operator HCA ( HCA) private for roughly $51 a share, or $21 billion. With assumed debt, the deal's enterprise value would clock in around $32 billion, eclipsing the storied LBO of RJR Nabisco in 1989.

Elsewhere, Advanced Micro ( AMD) will pay $5.4 billion to acquire ATI Technologies ( ATYT), adding a leading supplier of graphics accelerators to its core line of computer microprocessors. The stock and case price comes out to $18.21 an ATI share, or a roughly 24% premium to the stock's Friday close.

To view Farnoosh Torabi's video take on today's market, click here .

Dell rose in European trading after Citigroup slapped a buy on the stock and raised its price target to $28 a share from $24. The call follows a 10% hammering in the stock on Friday following the computer maker's second-quarter profit warning.

In earnings news, Schering-Plough ( SGP) reported a second-quarter profit of $259 million, or 16 cents a share, reversing a year-ago loss of $48 million, or 5 cents a share. Sales rose 18% to $2.82 billion.

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