US STOCKS-Futures little changed after 8-week run

Mon Dec 2, 2013 7:31am EST

* China factory activity maintains steady growth

* U.S. holiday weekend sales dip on discounts

* Futures: Dow off 2 pts, S&P off 0.9 pt, Nasdaq up 4.75 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Dec 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Monday after eight straight weeks of gains after mixed data on China and the euro zone and ahead of economic reports which could provide some clues on the strength of the U.S. recovery.

* Final data for China's HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index showed factory activity maintained steady growth momentum in November, boosted by resilient new orders, though the pace of expansion eased slightly from October.

* Buoyant demand for manufactured goods drove euro zone factory activity to accelerate at its fastest pace in over two years last month. But growth was still weak, and Markit said evidence of a renewed downturn in France and Spain - as well as firms cutting staff - was disappointing.

* Markit is expected to release its final U.S. Manufacturing PMI for November at 8:58 a.m. (1358 GMT). The index read 54.3 in the flash November report.

* Later in the session at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT) investors will eye the September and October construction spending data along with the Institute for Supply Management's November manufacturing PMI report. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 0.4 percent increase in October construction spending and a 55 reading in the ISM manufacturing index.

* Equities have rallied in recent weeks on the back of expectations for continued stimulus from the Federal Reserve. The S&P 500 has risen for eight straight weeks, marking its longest weekly run of gains since a nine-week climb between November 2003 and January 2004.

* While the Fed's stimulus program is expected to put a floor under equity prices for as long as it continues, market participants expect the central bank to begin scaling back its bond buying program within the next few months, with many expecting an announcement in March.

* The central bank has said it would begin to slow the program when certain economic measures meet its targets. The economic calendar is packed this week with data that may provide some insight, culminating with the November payrolls report on Friday.

* S&P 500 futures slipped 0.9 point and were slightly below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures shed 2 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 4.75 points.

* Retailers will continue to be in focus as the holiday shopping season begins to ramp up. Heavy discounting took a toll on U.S. retail sales during the Thanksgiving weekend as shoppers spent almost 3 percent less than they did a year earlier, according to data released Sunday by an industry group.

* European shares turned red early as weak manufacturing figures from Spain spooked investors ahead of a busy week on the economic data front.

* Asian shares were little changed as investors cautiously awaited key U.S. data this week after a decent reading on China manufacturing calmed worries about the health of the world's second-biggest economy.

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