The Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 1.11%) had a rough start to the new week. Fears about soaring coronavirus infection rates around the world and uncertainty over the presidential election next Tuesday left market participants struggling to figure out which way stocks should move, and that left gravity to impose itself. The Nasdaq closed with a loss of 1.6%.

As difficult as it is to see the stock market fall, there are a lot of positives that are providing some support to the market. Today, Dunkin' Brands International (DNKN) joined the growing group of companies that are considering strategic moves in order to bolster their businesses. Also helping to keep the Nasdaq from losing more ground were two stocks that have always had a major impact on the Nasdaq and promise to continue to do so well into the future.

An Inspire-ing deal for Dunkin'?

Dunkin' Brands saw its stock soar 16% on Monday. The doughnut and coffee chain became the latest target of a privately held company that's made some high-profile acquisitions in the restaurant space on several occasions in recent years.

A counter with a person wearing an apron handing a coffee cup to another person.

Image source: Getty Images.

In a strangely vague press release, Dunkin' revealed in its "statement about possible acquisition" that Inspire Brands has held preliminary discussions with the doughnut maker. It took third-party reports to learn possible details, including a price of $106.50 per share that would value Dunkin' at roughly $8.8 billion.

Inspire is a holding company that owns a number of other restaurant concepts. Previously known as Arby's Restaurant Group, Inspire purchased Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic Drive-In in 2018 and then followed that up with the acquisition of sandwich maker Jimmy John's in 2019.

The deal shifts the focus away from Dunkin's earnings report, scheduled for Thursday. Some speculate that if the reports prove accurate, a Dunkin' acquisition could lead the private equity community to look more closely at mergers and acquisitions in the restaurant space.

The big names in the Nasdaq

Playing a more important role in keeping the Nasdaq's losses in check were Apple (AAPL 0.93%) and Amazon (AMZN 1.35%). Neither stock made huge gains on Monday, but their recovery into the green by the end of the day signaled that investors haven't yet given up on the Nasdaq to make an end-of-year push toward record highs.

Apple is also scheduled to release its latest financial report on Thursday, and investors are anxious to see how the iPhone maker will fare going into the key holiday season. There's been a lot of focus recently on the new iPhone 12 line, which takes advantage of the new 5G capabilities that are starting to emerge among wireless carriers. Many have hoped that the 5G rollout would inspire a big new wave of upgrades among users who've until now been reticent to pony up for a pricey new smartphone.

Meanwhile, Amazon's shareholders have Thursday marked on their calendars as well to see how the e-commerce giant is doing financially. With the annual Amazon Prime event having just occurred, those following the stock hope Amazon will say something about how it fared. Moreover, because the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many companies to accelerate their digital transformation efforts, some expect Amazon's Web Services division to post heightened growth rates.

As interesting as deals like a Dunkin' acquisition can be, it's far more important to the health of the Nasdaq's bull market for Amazon and Apple to thrive. Without them, the stock market could quickly reverse course and bring what's been an amazing recovery to an end.