Futures Flat; Global Manufacturing in Focus

FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here 

U.S. stock-index futures were little changed Monday as traders digested mixed data on China's manufacturing sector, and awaited a fresh read on the American factory sector.

Today's Markets 

As of 8:14 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 5 points to 14502, S&P 500 futures dipped 0.25 point to 1563 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 2.8 points to 2814.

Wall Street posted an impressive first quarter, with the Dow and S&P both rallying more than 10% and closing at record highs. The second quarter was off to a more subdued start Monday, with traders filing back to work after a long weekend.

China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) climbed by 0.8 point in March from February to 50.9, missing expectations of 52. The reading suggest China's manufacturing sector expanded at the swiftest pace in 11 months. A separate PMI gauge from HSBC rose 1.2 points to 51.6 in March.

"China's recovery continues, mainly driven by the gradually improving domestic demand conditions," Hongbin Qu, the bank's chief economist for China wrote in the report.

Still, Zhiwei Zhang, an economist at Nomura, wrote to clients Monday the the recovery in China is "unsustainable." Zhang sees growth in the world's No. 2 economy slowing down in the second half of the year.

The Institute for Supply Management's report on U.S. PMI is due out at 10:00 a.m. ET. Economists expect the closely-watched indicator to hold steady at 54.2 for March. Readings above 50 point to expansion, while those below indicate contraction.

Last Friday, while U.S. markets were closed, there were two generally upbeat reports out on the American consumer sector.

The Reuters/University of Michigan gauge of consumer sentiment soared to 78.6 in late March from an earlier reading of 71.8 -- the biggest upward revision on record. Economists expected a reading of 72.5.

U.S. consumer spending rose 0.7% in February from January, the biggest gain since September 2012, and slightly better than estimates of a 0.6% increase. Meanwhile, personal income jumped 1.1%, also topping forecasts of a 0.8% rise.

In corporate news, a judge dismissed a large part of a lawsuit brought against large banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) over manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) -- a key benchmark rate. Specifically, the judge dismissed anti-trust and RICO claims, and partially dismissed commodities manipulation claims.

Elsewhere, energy futures were mildly lower on the disappointing China data. The benchmark U.S. crude oil contract fell 66 cents, or 0.68%, to $96.57 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.14% to $3.106 a gallon. In metals, gold rose $3.40, or 0.22%, to $1,599 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.44% to 2624, the English FTSE 100 climbed 0.38% to 6412 and the German DAX edged up 0.08% to 7795.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 plunged 2.1% to 12135 and the Chinese Hang Seng dropped 0.74% to 22300.