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Stocks were set for a tame start on Tuesday, ahead of an important U.S. economic report on manufacturing and with many stock markets in Europe and Asia closed for May Day celebrations.

U.S. index futures were up just slightly with about 90 minutes before markets open, suggesting little change when stocks begin to trade. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were up 6 points or less than 0.1 per cent. Futures for the broader S&P 500 were up 1 point or about 0.1 per cent.

During the May Day celebrations in Europe, workers are expected to protest against recent austerity measures, which are now being widely criticized for making the European economy weaker. Spain, the U.K. and a number of other countries in Europe slid back into recession in the first quarter.

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The U.K. stock market was open, with the FTSE 100 up 0.4 per cent in afternoon trading.

The U.S. ISM index of manufacturing activity for April is the major North American economic release of the day. Economists are expecting a decline to a reading of 53, from 53.4 last month.

Commodity prices retreated slightly. Crude oil fell to $104.59 (U.S.) a barrel, down 0.3 per cent. Gold fell to $1663 an ounce, down less than 0.1 per cent.

In earnings news, Talisman Energy Inc. reported a first quarter profit of $291-million or 28 cents a share, beating analysts' expectations. Pfizer Inc. reported quarterly income of $1.8-billion or 24 cents a share, down 19 per cent from last year. The shares fell 0.7 per cent in premarket activity.

Meanwhile, Research In Motion Ltd. will be in the spotlight when new chief executive Thorsten Heins delivers the keynote speech at the BlackBerry World annual conference. He is expected to talk about RIM's vision of the future for mobile devices, as well as RIM's upcoming new platform, the BlackBerry 10.

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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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