Stocks Opened Higher on Deal News, Earnings

U.S. stocks opened higher on Monday on cautious optimism over signs of progress toward a debt deal in Europe and strong results from Caterpillar Inc. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 58.51 points, or 0.50%, to 11,867.30. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 8.37 points to 1,246.62. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.04%, or 27.48 points, to 2,664.94.

European leaders reached the halfway mark of their marathon to end the debt crisis, outlining plans to aid banks and ruling out tapping the European Central Bank’s balance sheet to boost the region’s rescue fund.

Strong demand for machinery drove up Caterpillar’s profit 44 percent in the third quarter and the company expects even stronger sales next year. It earned $1.14 billion, or $1.71 per share, in the third quarter, compared with $792 million, or $1.22 per share, a year earlier. Revenue surged 41 percent to $15.72 billion.

Netflix will break down the damage from a recent price increase and botched attempt to split up its video subscription service when it reports its third-quarter earnings.

Wal-Mart announced a new strategy that it hopes will pull in procrastinators early by giving them a big incentive: a guarantee that they’ll get the lowest price no matter when they buy during the holiday season.

FedEx expects to handle more than 17 million packages on its busiest day of the year in mid-December, as holiday shoppers continue to buy more online.

Managed-care company Cigna Corp. said Monday it buy fellow health insurer HealthSpring Inc. in a $3.8 billion deal that would boost Cigna’s Medicare Advantage business.

Software company Oracle Corp. said Monday that it is buying RightNow Technologies Inc. for about $1.5 billion so it can offer a broader range of software and services that help businesses manage customer service.

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