Stocks Opened Flat Ahead of ISM Report

Stocks opened narrowly mixed on Monday as investors returned from the long Easter weekend and ahead of some key economic reports. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 22.34 points, or 0.15 percent, to 14,600.88. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index shed 1.38 points, or 0.09 percent, to 1,570.57. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.92 point, or 0.03 percent, to 3,268.44.

The business prospects of U.S. manufacturers have gotten better for three straight months and they probably improved again in March. Economists polled by MarketWatch expect the ISM manufacturing survey to match February’s level of 54.2%, a number that would suggest rising sales and production. Any figure over 50% signals expansion.

It’s crunch time for J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) Chief Executive Ron Johnson. The struggling department store chain is poised to open the first of its new home goods boutiques on April 5, a launch that Johnson himself has called “pivotal” to his efforts to revive Penney.

The Russian government will not aid businesses that have lost money in Cyprus, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said, underscoring Moscow’s resolve to clamp down on the flight of capital to offshore financial centers.

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