US STOCKS-Wall St to open flat after 8-week run-up; data on tap

Mon Dec 2, 2013 9:17am EST

* Markit manufacturing data rebounds

* U.S. construction spending, ISM manufacturing data on tap

* U.S. holiday weekend sales dip on discounts

* Futures up: Dow up 5 pts, S&P 0.3 pt, Nasdaq up 6.5 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Dec 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a flat open on Monday, in the wake of eight straight weeks of gains, after data showed manufacturing rebounded in November and ahead of two reports which could provide some clues on the strength of the recovery.

Financial data firm Markit said its final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to 54.7, stronger than the preliminary reading October of 54.3.

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.

"It's a quiet day coming off a holiday week, so I'm not surprised we are not seeing that big of a market move today. We have some data - the ISM and construction spending which are two pretty significant economic reports," said Tim Ghriskey, Chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.

Equities have rallied in recent weeks on 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, putting the yearly gain at nearly 27 percent.

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.

"Data that is too strong or too weak will result in some type of pullback. We have been without any type of pullback for quite a while and you would think at some point we are going to see some profit-taking," said Ghriskey.

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

S&P 500 futures added 0.3 point and were roughly even with 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 gained 5 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 6.5 points.

Dow Chemical identified the commodity chemicals businesses it would sell or spin off as part of a plan to sell assets worth $3 billion to $4 billion, representing up to $5 billion of total annual revenue. Dow shares rose 1.8 percent to $39.76 in light premarket trade.

Retailers will continue to be in focus as the holiday shopping season ramps 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.

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