Stock Futures Dip as Traders Mull Corporate News, Data

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U.S. stock-index futures were stuck modestly in the red as traders digested a round of corporate deal making and data on the consumer sector that came in close to estimates.

Today's Markets

As of 8:35 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 27 points to 13137, S&P 500 futures dipped 3 points to 1396 and Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 10.5 points to 2726.

All of the major market averages climbed at least 1% last week, with the Nasdaq leading the charge with a 2.3% gain. The American economy is expected to come squarely into focus this week with important reports on tap daily and the closely-watched monthly employment report due on Friday.

Consumer spending rose 0.3% in March from February, the Commerce Department reported, slightly shy of the 0.4% gain economists expected. Meanwhile, personal income climbed 0.4% for the month, a slightly bigger gain than the 0.3% that was expected. The report also showed consumers' saving rate ticking up by 0.1-percentage point to 3.8%.

Recent data, including last week's first-quarter GDP report, have shown that the consumer sector has remained robust even as the economy has expanded slowly and the jobs market has remained tight.

The ISM-Chicago Business Survey, set to be released later in the morning, is expected to show manufacturing activity in the Midwest slowing down slightly during the month of April. The more closely-followed national report from the Institute for Supply Management is slated for release on Tuesday.

There are also two notable market holidays this week: Japanese markets are closed on Monday, while European exchanges are closed on Tuesday. In a note to clients, analysts at Nomura called the light trading schedule a "recipe for low liquidity volatility," meaning trading may be particularly choppy.

In corporate news, Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) revealed a deal in which Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will invest $300 million in a new digital publishing subsidiary. The entity will be worth $1.7 billion, the companies said in a release. The bookseller will own a an 82.4% stake, with Micorosft owning the rest. Barnes & Noble shares nearly doubled in early trade.

Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE:ETP) also unveiled plans to buy Sunoco (NYSE:SUN) for $5.3 billion in a cash and stock deal. The two energy companies said the tie-up will "create one of the largest and most diversified energy partnerships in the country."

On the European front, Spain officially double dipped into recession territory, with the country's economy contracting 0.3% in the first quarter, slightly better than consensus estimates of a 0.4% drop. Standard & Poor's also cut its rating on 11 Spanish banks on Monday after cutting the country's sovereign debt ratings down by two notches to BBB+ last week.

Commodities were mostly to the downside. Crude oil traded in New York fell 68 cents, or 0.65%, to $104.25 a barrel. The June contract for wholesale gasoline dipped 0.15% to $3.14 a gallon.

In metals, gold fell $1.40, or 0.08%, to $1,663 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips fell 0.78%, the English FTSE 100 slid 0.39% to 5755 and the German DAX was unchanged at 6801.

In Asia, the Chinese Hang Seng soared 1.7% to 21094.