* S&P 500 coming off all-time closing high, targeting record
intraday high 1,576.09.
* Further gains may be tough to come by
* ISM manufacturing data on tap after market opens
* Dow down 17 pts, S&P down 1.1 pt, Nasdaq up 0.25 pt
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, April 1 U.S. stock index futures were
flat on Monday, with investors looking for reasons to keep
pushing shares higher after the S&P 500 closed at a new all-time
* Equities have been on a tear in 2013, with stocks jumping
10 percent in the first quarter, extending their monthly string
of gains to five. With the advance, the S&P is only a few points
away from its all-time intraday high level of 1,576.09.
* While market momentum has been positive, many investors
have been calling for a near-term pullback, saying shares have
* Investors will also look ahead to the U.S. Institute for
Supply Management's March reading on manufacturing activity at
10 a.m. (1400 GMT), with the main index expected to come in at
54.2, same as the prior month. February construction spending,
which is also scheduled for release at 10 a.m., is seen rising 1
percent, compared with a 2.1 percent drop in January.
* Economic data has been mixed recently, but strong reads
may not be a positive catalyst for markets if investors view the
economy as so strong that the Federal Reserve will reduce its
bond-buying program, which has been credited with boosting
* This is a busy week for economic data, with the ISM
services sector report on tap for Wednesday and the closely
watched non-farm payrolls report on Friday.
* S&P 500 futures fell 1.1 point and were 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 fell 17
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.25 points.
* Volatility may be low with European markets closed for the
Easter holiday. Concerns over the region's debt, especially with
respect to Cyprus, have been a major source of market
uncertainty in recent weeks.
* The uncertainty over Cyprus has contributed to stocks
trading in a tight range, with the S&P 500 within 10 points of
its previous all-time closing high for 13 sessions before
* The S&P's 10 percent surge in the first quarter has very
bullish implications. An analysis by Ryan Detrick, senior
technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research in
Cincinnati, showed the S&P 500 has risen in the three first
months of the year nine times in the past 30 years, and in each
case, it has posted gains for the year.
* The average yearly gain after such a start, the data
showed, was 17.56 percent. An advance like that would leave the
S&P 500 at about 1,676 at the end of this year.
* In company news, Exxon Mobil Corp continued
cleanup of a pipeline spill that spewed thousands of barrels of
heavy Canadian crude in Arkansas.
* Dell Inc warned that it would be dangerous to
take on a lot of debt and remain a public company given its
worsening profit outlook, in a sign that it views proposals from
Blackstone Group LP and billionaire investor Carl Icahn
as fraught with risk. The comments came on Friday, which was a
holiday for U.S. markets.