Futures Steady Ahead of Manufacturing Data

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U.S. stock-index futures were little changed on the first trading day after a long weekend for Wall Street as market participants awaited a closely-watched report on American manufacturing.

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Today's Markets

As of 7:50 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 2 points to 13077, S&P 500 futures slipped 1 point to 1404 and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 1.8 points to 2770.

The broad S&P 500 climbed for its third month in a row in August, and is now up nearly 12% for the year. Average daily volume on the New York Stock Exchange came in at the lowest in more than five years. However, as summer comes to a close, action is expected to pick up.

The Institute for Supply Management releases its gauge of U.S. manufacturing activity at 10:00 a.m. ET. Economists expect the ISM PMI reading to show the sector having essentially stalled for the month of August after contracting very slightly the month before.

A report due at the same time from the Commerce Department is forecast to show construction spending having revved up by 0.4% in July from June.

The European Central Bank is set to meet on Thursday. Market participants have been waiting to see if ECB President Mario Draghi will reveal new actions, such as a plan to buy sovereign bonds, aimed at quelling the debt crisis that has been weighing heavily on the eurozone's economy. Draghi hinted that the ECB may be willing to buy bonds maturing in three years or less at a closed hearing of the European Parliament, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, citing a European lawmaker.

"With the keenly-awaited ECB meeting getting closer by the day, this week was always going to be susceptible to a tug-of-war between the bulls and bears," Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at IG Index in London wrote in an e-mail.

Also on that front, Moody's cut its outlook on the European Union's pristine 'AAA' credit rating to negative from stable.

In commodities, oil futures edged higher. The benchmark contract traded in New York rose 52 cents, or 0.53%, to $96.98 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline gained 0.69% to $2.993 a gallon.

Gold prices climbed $6.10, or 0.36%, to $1,694 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.12% to 2460, the English FTSE 100 slumped 0.93% to 5706 and the German DAX dipped 0.43% to 6985.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 drifted lower by 0.1% to 8776 and the Chinese Hang Seng ticked lower by 0.66% to 19430.