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Pre-Market Primer: Stocks Up Slightly Before Manufacturing and Construction Data


This will be a big week for economic data.

After a three-day Easter break, US stock futures floundered between gains and losses before data releases showing an improvement in manufacturing.

Stock futures pointed slightly higher ahead of the opening bell on the first trading day of the second quarter. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures are up 0.05% at 14,504. S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) futures rose 0.01% to 1,562.80 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures gained 0.10% to 2,813.75.

The ISM manufacturing survey, due out at 10:00 a.m., is expected to show a fourth straight month of steady improvement in March. The index is expected to stay at 54.2. Any reading above 50 shows expansion on a monthly basis. The ISM survey is a leading indicator of companies' willingness to hire, and a handy barometer for enterprise manufacturing health. This week will see several employment-focused headlines, including the ADP private sector payrolls, and the Bureau of Labor Service's non-farm payrolls.

Construction spending is expected to show a rebound from January's 2.1% drop with a rise of 1.1% in February.

European markets are closed for the Easter holiday today, and Asian shares ended lower overnight. The Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan survey was disappointingly bad at -8 in March, up from -12 in December. The survey showed that Japan's manufacturers are less confident than analysts expected, despite the fall in the yen's value, which makes the country's exports more competitive. The services sector improved to 6 from 4, also falling short of expectations.

China manufacturing data showed strong domestic demand, but still missed projections. The country's official manufacturing PMI, which is weighted toward large and state-owned companies, rose to 50.9, the most robust rate of expansion in 11 months, from 50.1 in March. New orders turned up sharply. HSBC's (NYSE:HBC) PMI reading, which polls more small manufacturers, rose to 51.6, up from 50.4 in February.

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) said that orders for the Model S rose to 4,750, exceeding previous guidance. The company also raised its earnings guidance for the March quarter to a slim profit. The electric car maker rose 9.16 % in early trading.

Blackstone (NYSE:BX) might make a bid for Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) that will keep Michael Dell on as CEO. If so, the founder may drop his arrangement with Silver Lake Partners, which earlier bid $24.4 billion to take the company private.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) might continue to decline today after a report from sources close to Asian manufacturers that suggested that it cut orders for the iPad mini by as much as 20%. Though the smaller tablet is outselling the iPad, it faces competition from cheaper Android (NASDAQ:GOOG) tablets.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is holding a press event on Thursday. News reports suggest that the social network will introduce a Facebook-branded mobile phone made in partnership with Taiwan's HTC Corp (TPE:2498).

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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