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Before the Bell: Traders eye mixed global economic signs

Liam Lahey

Global markets were given a lift on Monday by better-than-expected manufacturing data from the U.S. and China but enthusiasms seemingly waned due to concerns over Spain on Tuesday.

According to the Institute for Supply Management, U.S. manufacturing accelerated in March hitting 53.2 on the purchasing manager's index, up from 52.4 in February. A score above 50 indicates growth. Meanwhile across the pond, Spain's jobless level rose for the eighth consecutive month to hit a record 4.75 million. The country's debt will surge to 78 per cent of GDP this year, the Spanish economy minister warned.

The benchmark Stoxx 600 Index dropped 0.2 per cent to 266.75 while Spain's IBEX 35 was up 0.1 per cent at 8046.70. London's FTSE 100 was flat at 5877.65, Frankfurt's DAX gained 0.3 per cent to 7079.27 and Paris's CAC-40 increased 0.2 per cent to 3469.76. The euro currency is presently fetching US$1.3338.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average eased 0.59 per cent, or 59.48 points, to 10,050.39 but Seoul's Kospi closed 0.99 per cent higher, adding 19.99 points to 2,049.28. Australia's ASX 200 Index gained 0.18 per cent, or 7.7 points, to 4,337.0. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.85 per cent and the Shanghai Composite Index was closed for a public holiday.

On Wall Street, U.S. futures are pointing to a lower open. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 26 points to 13163. S&P's 500 Index futures fell 2.75 points to 1409.75, while Nasdaq 100 futures fell three points to 2774. On Tuesday, investors will await a March U.S. car sales report and a factory orders report for February.

Closer to home, resources and energy led gains on Canada's benchmark. The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 114.88 points, or 0.93 per cent, to close at 12,507.06 on Monday. Canada's junior Venture exchange edged up 3.39 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 1,569.79. The Canadian dollar is trading at US$1.0098.