U.S. stock markets booked a rather uninspiring start to the week, as domestic recession worries took precedence over Friday's European jubilation. With acute fears from overseas temporally dashed, today's action was fueled by a disheartening ISM manufacturing report in the U.S., which came in at levels not seen since July 2009. Economist expectations were for a reading of 52, while the actual numbers came in at 49.7, suggesting that manufacturing conditions worsened in June. The final tally was relatively flat day for both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC), with the Dow down 0.07% and the S&P up 0.25%.

Away from economic data, it was a busy Monday for acquisition announcements, with multiple announcements including Dell's purchase of Quest Software, Micron's (NYSE: MU) deal with Elpida Memory, Ingram Micro's acquisition of mobile distributor Brightpoint, and Bristol-Myers Squibb's renegotiated buyout of Amylin Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: AMLN). The $5.3 billion deal between Bristol-Myers and Amylin will give the former control over Amylin's once-weekly diabetes drug Bydureon. The acquisition is expected to be a drag on earnings for the next two years before becoming accretive in 2014. Investors cheered the Micron deal, bidding shares up 3.8% today on the acquisition, which will increase its manufacturing capacity by around 50%.

Today's Dow laggards were a Who's Who of the industrials sector, with the likes of General Electric , Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), and Boeing declining in response to the disappointing ISM numbers. Caterpillar has been a standout performer in recent years, posting earnings growth and beating analyst expectations in all but one quarter since the beginning of 2010. Its most notable moves have been in the mining sector, where its $8.6 billion acquisition of Bucyrus made it the world's largest manufacturer of mining equipment.

While today's manufacturing data was disappointing, an investment strategy based on trading around individual economic data points is no better than playing roulette with your nest egg. It's an uphill battle, and one we at The Motley Fool want to encourage you to stay away from. Instead, we think you're better off holding a portfolio of strong, well-managed companies suitable for the long haul, like the three outlined in our special report: "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich." Inside, we outline these picks, as well as some important habits you need to build long-term wealth. Claim your copy of this exclusive report today -- free of charge!

Brenton Flynn owns no shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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