* ISM manufacturing lowest in three years
* Delta among suitors for Virgin Atlantic stake - sources
* Spain makes formal request for EU bank aid
* Dow off 0.1 pct, S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Dec 3 The S&P 500 edged up to rise for
a fourth straight day on Monday as upbeat Chinese data lifted
sentiment, but weak U.S. factory numbers cut into gains.
Wall Street opened higher on that data but pared most of its
gains after U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in
November, falling to its lowest in over three years in a sign
the sector may be struggling to gain traction.
Concerns over budget dealings in Washington are expected to
keep traders cautious as political wrangling continues over how
to deal with spending cuts and tax hikes scheduled to kick in
next year that could tip the U.S. economy back into recession.
China's economy picked up in November even as a broader
global recovery remains fragile, with factory activity patchy
elsewhere in Asia as demand from the developed world remains
"It's not clear exactly which numbers to focus on, but data
is probably positive for markets starting from the China release
last night," said Paul Zemsky, head of asset allocation at ING
Investment Management in New York.
Adding to the upbeat market tone, Spain formally requested
the disbursement more than $50 billion of European funds to
recapitalize its crippled banking sector while Greece said it
would spend 10 billion euros ($13 billion) to buy back bonds in
a bid to reduce its ballooning debt.
"There's other positive news out of Europe with Greeks
buying back their debt," Zemsky said. "Net-net the news cycle is
positive for (equity) markets."
The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 9.87 points,
or 0.08 percent, to 13,015.71. The S&P 500 Index gained
0.82 point, or 0.06 percent, to 1,417.00. The Nasdaq Composite
added 6.24 points, or 0.21 percent, to 3,016.49.
The S&P 500 on Friday closed its fifth positive month in six
and is up 8 percent since the end of May.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pushed Republicans
on Sunday to offer specific ideas to cut the deficit and
predicted that they would agree to raise tax rates on the rich
to obtain a year-end deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
"Right now for both sides it's all about staying firm and
determined to go to the very end," said Peter Cardillo, chief
market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York about
the negotiations. "But we all know the stakes are high and
(Congress) can't be that stupid as to induce another recession."
Singapore Airlines said it was in talks with
interested parties to sell its 49 percent stake in British
carrier Virgin Atlantic, with sources saying that Delta Air
Lines was among the potential suitors. Delta shares fell
1.9 percent to $9.81.
Dell shares rose 6.3 percent to $10.25 after
Goldman Sachs upgraded its view on the stock to "buy" from