U.S. stocks edged higher in early trading Monday as investors kept an eye on developments in the Middle East amid a widening insurgency in Iraq. Deal news boosted several stocks, including medical device maker Covidien and natural gas producer Williams Cos.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose four points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,940 in the first 45 minutes of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,791. The Nasdaq composite gained 15 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,325.
ACQUISITION PRESCRIPTION: Covidien soared 23 percent after the Ireland-based medical device manufacturer agreed to be bought by U.S. competitor Medtronic. The deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions by medical-device manufacturers. Covidien rose $17.23 to $89.25. Medtronic gained $1.33, or 2.2 percent, to $62.06.
ENERGY MARRIAGE: Williams Companies rose $10.19, or 21.4 percent, to $57.28 after announcing a deal to expand its stake in Access Midstream Partners.
WAIT AND SEE: Traders watched developments in Iraq with an eye on the Obama administration's next move as Sunni militants extended their violent advance. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the Obama administration is open to discussions with Iran over the crisis and is considering airstrikes to slow the insurgency.
OIL: The price of crude continued to climb as Iraq's widening insurgency raised concerns that exports from OPEC's No. 2 oil producer could be affected. Oil rose 11 cents to $107.02 a barrel. Oil has risen 4 percent this month.
BOND WATCH: In U.S. government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year note slipped to 2.59 percent from 2.60 percent late Friday.