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Futures Hug Flatline Ahead of ISM Report

Stock index futures were narrowly mixed on the first day of the second quarter, with the S&P 500 looking to push to new highs, as investors returned from the long Easter weekend and ahead of some key economic reports.

The S&P 500 pierced through its 2007 closing high level of 1,565.15 last Thursday, recovering all its losses from the financial crisis. The index jumped nearly 10 percent for the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Dow surged more than 11 percent in the first three months of the year, posting its strongest quarter since 1998.

Strategists say a strong first-quarter performance usually implies a bullish year.

"Since 1945, whenever the S&P 500 recorded a positive performance in the first quarter, the average performance for the three remaining quarters improved by an average 1.2, 1.1, and 0.4 percentage points, respectively," wrote Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ, "In addition, the entire rest of the year saw its average return of 6.1 percent rise to 8.9 percent, or be improved upon by 2.8 percentage points."

(Read More: After April Showers, Market Could Bounce Back)

But trading is expected to remain light as most European and some Asian markets, including Hong Kong and Australia, remained closed for Easter.

Ebay climbed after the online auction company said it expected annual earnings growth of 15 percent to 19 percent over the next three years, and is targeting an increase in revenue of as much as 68 percent for the period. At least six brokerages raised their price target on the company.

Novartis declined after the pharmaceutical company lost an attempt to win patent protection for its cancer drug Glivec in India.

On the economic front, the Institute for Supply Management is expected to release the March reading on manufacturing activity at 10 am ET, with the main index expected to come in at 54.2, same as the prior month. In addition, February construction spending is also scheduled to be reported at 10 am ET. Economists expect a gain of 1 percent, compared with a 2.1 percent drop in January.

Also, Markit's U.S. final manufacturing PMI for March will be released at the same time.

Later this week, the ISM services sector report will be posted on Wednesday and the closely watched non-farm payrolls report will be released on Friday.

—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

MONDAY: PMI manufacturing report, ISM mfg index, construction spending
TUESDAY: Factory orders, auto sales
WEDNESDAY: Mortgage applications, ADP employment report, ISM non-mfg index, oil inventories; Earnings from ConAgra, Monsanto
THURSDAY: BoE announcement, Challenger job-cut report, ECB announcement, jobless claims, natural gas inventories, chain-store sales
FRIDAY: Gov't jobs report, international trade, consumer credit

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