Stock futures climb ahead of manufacturing report

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures rose Monday as traders were hopeful a report on manufacturing activity in the U.S. would mirror similar data from China that showed the sector expanded there last month.

Futures also climbed ahead of midterm elections and the Federal Reserve’s meeting this week where the central bank is expected to announce a new economic stimulus program.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters expect the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index slipped to 54 in October from 54.4 a month earlier. Even with the slight slowdown, any reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding. Manufacturing has shown the most consistent growth during the year as a recovery remains sluggish.

A strong report on manufacturing out of China sent shares in that country sharply higher Monday. Growth accelerated in China as spending on infrastructure led to an increase in orders for new equipment.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 49, or 0.4 percent, to 11,115. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 6.50, or 0.6 percent, to 1,186.20, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 8.00, or 0.4 percent, to 2,130.00.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 2.4 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 2.5 percent.

Any movement tied to Monday’s manufacturing report could be fleeting though as traders quickly turn their attention to Tuesday’s midterm elections and the Fed’s meeting, which wraps up Wednesday.

Traders have been betting that Republicans will take control of at least the House of Representatives. That could slow President Barack Obama’s agenda, which many analysts have said is not favorable to businesses.

Investors have also been assuming the Fed will launch a new Treasury-buying program to help stimulate the economy. Stocks rose for much of October because investors expect the Fed will announce as early as Wednesday that it plans to buy government debt to drive interest rates lower in an effort to spark spending and lending.

Only in the last few days has the market rally trailed off amid questions about exactly how much the Fed will spend to buy bonds. The Dow rose 3.1 percent in October, including a 0.1 percent drop last week.

Lower interest rates weaken returns on debt, which would make stocks and commodities more attractive investments since their potential return would be significantly higher.

Bond prices traded in a narrow range Monday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, was unchanged at 2.60 percent compared with late Friday.

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