New York - US stocks opened flat on Tuesday as investors returned from a three-day weekend and awaited a report on the manufacturing sector, a key driver of the economy's sluggish recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 17.70 points (0.14

percent) at 13,073.14 after the first five minutes of trade.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped a mere 0.44 point (0.03 percent) to 1,406.14, while the tech-rich Nasdaq climbed 0.86 (0.03 percent) to 3,067.82.

The listless action came “as traders await a key report on domestic manufacturing activity,” Charles Schwab & Co. analysts said.

Traders returned to their posts after Monday's Labour Day holiday facing a shortened week packed with economic news that wraps up with Friday's August jobs report.

The Institute for Supply Management releases its purchasing manager's index for manufacturing at 1400 GMT. Markets expected the index will show manufacturing expanded slightly in August, to 50.0

from July's 49.8 reading. In addition, the European Central Bank will take its turn on center stage on Thursday. The ECB monetary policy meeting and a post-meeting news conference by its chief Mario Draghi are expected to be closely followed amid hopes for more support for the debt-ravaged eurozone.

On Friday, Wall Street got a bump higher after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reaffirmed the central bank's willingness to provide more economic stimulus if needed.

The Dow add 0.7 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.5 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.6 percent. - Sapa-AFP