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US STOCKS-Futures rise before factory data as new quarter begins

* Futures up: Dow 61 pts, S&P 5.7 pts, Nasdaq 15.5 pts

(Updates prices, adds comment, byline)

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Oct 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Monday at the start of a new quarter before data that could show the manufacturing sector is improving.

The final Markit Manufacturing PMI for September is due at 8:58 a.m. (1258 GMT). The Institute for Supply Management's September manufacturing index is forecast to rise to 49.7 from 49.6 in August, according to economists in a Reuters survey. The report is expected at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT). A reading above 50 signifies expansion while below 50 means a contraction.

In addition, construction spending in August is due at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT).

The rise in futures points to a rebound from the S&P 500 index's biggest weekly drop since June.

Euro zone manufacturing put in its worst performance in the three months to September while Asia's manufacturers are continuing to struggle in the face of tepid demand from the United States and Europe, flagging a return to recession for the euro zone and a seventh straight quarter of slowing growth in China, business surveys showed.

Equity markets are being supported by expectations of support from central banks, including the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, which are offsetting weak data, according to Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in New York.

"The market focuses more on future results than on what's happening today," he said.

S&P 500 futures

rose 5.7 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures

added 61 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 15.5 points. Ceradyne Inc

shares gained 42.8 percent to $34.89 in premarket trading on news the company will be acquired by 3M Co

for $847 million.

The U.S. Defense Department on Friday awarded United Launch Alliance, which is a 50-50 joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp

and Boeing Co

, a $1.17 billion contract to provide satellite launches using its Delta IV and Atlas V rockets.

Wall Street finished lower on Friday but recorded its best third quarter since 2010 after a series of central bank actions sparked a bullish reversal in equity markets, but signs of weakness in the economy drove stocks lower for the week.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

((rodrigo.campos@thomsonreuters.com)(+1.646.223.6344)(Reuters

Messaging: rodrigo.campos.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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