US futures mixed before business orders report

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NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock futures were mixed Tuesday ahead of reports that are expected to show rising U.S. business orders and strong car sales.

The Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 32 points to 13,157. The Standard & Poor's 500 index futures slipped 2.8 points to 1,409.8. But the Nasdaq composite futures rose 2.5 points to 2,779.5.

Ahead of the market opening, Chrysler posted a 34 percent spike in March sales, the best month for the company in four years. There are signs that U.S. consumers, after years of hunkering down and holding on to whatever money they earned, are feeling confident enough in the economy to buy big-ticket items like cars.

The introduction of small cars from Chrysler's Fiat brand didn't hurt, either.

The U.S. markets rallied Monday after a strong manufacturing report. The Commerce Department on Tuesday is expected to report rebounding orders to factories.

Economists expected orders in February increased 1.5 percent, according to a survey by FactSet. The Commerce Department will release the report at 10 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday.

Orders for durable goods fell off steeply in January, but that was after the expiration of a tax-credit for businesses that allowed them to reduce taxable profits by an amount equal to the cost of a major investment.

A preliminary report released last week showed that demand has rebounded and economists expect business investments will remain vibrant as companies that emerge from the trenches of the recession.

Molson Coors Brewing Co. made a major investment overseas, putting up more than $3.5 billion to snap up StarBev and its nine breweries in central and eastern Europe.

The brewer saw its customers hit hard in the U.S. during the recession, but had a big fourth quarter to end the year and there are signs that, after cutting costs, Molson Coors is ready to grow.

It announced the deal for StarBev the day after the European Union announced that unemployment has now reached the highest point since the euro was introduced in 1999.

Molson Coors wants to expand into that market and hopefully see a repeat performance overseas when Europe recovers.

StarBev had sales of about $1 billion last year, brewing more than 11 million barrels of beer.