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Stocks are flat in morning trade as US election looms

Stocks are flat to slightly higher in morning trading on Monday, helped by positive economic data and investors reacting positively to a series of big mergers announced over the weekend.

Investors also continue to watch the day-to-day developments of the U.S. presidential election, which is slightly more than a week away.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell three points, or 0.02 percent, to 18,159 as of 10:48 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 1 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,127 and the Nasdaq composite was little changed at 5,189.

BUSY WEEK: Along with the election, investors have two heavyweight events on the economic front this week: a meeting of the Federal Reserve and the October jobs report. It’s widely expected that the Fed’s policymakers will not raise interest rates so close to the election, waiting until the December meeting to raise rates, however any economic observations from the bank will be important to investors. The jobs report will be the last major piece of economic data out before the Nov. 8 election.

ELECTION: The news out late last week regarding newly found emails related to Hillary Clinton’s email practices has thrown the election’s results into more uncertainty. Over the weekend, FBI obtained a warrant to begin reviewing newly discovered emails that may be relevant to the Hillary Clinton email investigation, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

MERGER MANIA: Wall Street got another wave of mega mergers over the weekend. General Electric announced it would merge its oil and gas division with Baker Hughes, creating a new company with $32 billion in revenue a year. GE rose 39 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $29.62 while Baker Hughes fell 71 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $58.41.

Separately, telecommunications company CenturyLink announced it was purchasing competitor Level 3 Communications for $24 billion. CenturyLink fell $2.96, or 10 percent, to $27.45 and Level 3 rose $2.72, or 5 percent, to $56.77. Earlier this month AT&T announced it would buy Time Warner for $80 billion.

The wave of mergers was not limited to the U.S. On Monday three of Japan’s largest shipping companies announced they would merge their shipping container operations.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark oil futures extended their losses after falling last week to their lowest price this month. Crude fell $1.15 to $47.54 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.28 to $49.39 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. The yield on 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.83 percent from 1.85 percent on Friday. The dollar rose against the euro, British pound and the Japanese yen.

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