Stocks Head for Mixed Open ahead of Economic Data

NEW YORK – Wall Street started November on a tentative note Monday, with stock futures trading mixed ahead of readings on manufacturing activity, construction spending and auto sales.

Investors are prepared for the day's reports to support the growing belief that the economy is in recession and getting slammed hard by the recent freeze-up in credit. The question is whether the data will indicate the economy is in even more dire shape than the Dow Jones industrial average has priced in after tumbling more than 14 percent in October — its worst month in 21 years.

The Institute for Supply Management is expected to report that the manufacturing sector contracted in October faster than it did in September, while the Commerce Department is expected to report that construction spending dropped 0.8 percent in September following a flat reading for August, according to economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.

Analysts are also anticipating extremely weak vehicle sales figures from the auto industry for October — even more anemic than in September, when automakers said fewer than 1 million vehicles were sold for the first time in 15 years.

Dow futures rose 6, or 0.06 percent, to 9,304. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 0.40, or 0.04 percent, to 966.90, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 1.50, or 0.11 percent, to 1,338.50.

Trading is expected to be light Monday, with many investors sitting on the sidelines ahead of Tuesday's presidential election. Many analysts have said that in general, neither candidate is more favored than the other on Wall Street, but investors are eager to put the uncertainty behind them.

Last month, for all its problems, did end with a positive tone, as the stock market appeared to be stabilizing thanks in large part to weeks of gradual improvement in the tight credit markets, but also because mutual funds were finished with selling at the end of their fiscal year. The Dow added 11.3 percent last week, its best weekly performance in 34 years, while the S&P 500 index climbed 10.5 percent.

On Monday, the dollar was lower against most other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Light, sweet crude fell 54 cents to $67.27 a barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.73 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 0.62 percent, and France's CAC-40 advanced 1.45 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed 2.7 percent. Japan's stock market was closed for a holiday.


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