Wall St lifts on data, Syria

United States stocks close higher as S&P posts sixth straight gain, Nasdaq sees highest close since September 2000.

United States stocks have closed solidly higher for a second day running on strong Chinese economic data and greater confidence that a US military strike on Syria might be avoided.

The gains saw the S&P 500 post its sixth straight positive gain, marking its longest winning streak since an eight-session stretch ended July 15.

The Nasdaq Composite posted its highest close since September 2000.

At the closing bell on Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 128.94 points (0.86%) to 15,192.06 points.

The broad-based S&P 500 increased 12.36 points (0.74%) to 1,684.07 points.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index put on 22.84 (0.62%) at 3,729.02 points.

China's industrial production rose in August at its fastest rate in 17 months, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics. The data comes on the heels of strong Chinese export data on Monday.

The China reports are "continuing to cement the idea that the slowdown in China has stabilised," said Alec Young, global equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ.

Tuesday's gains came as investors continued to hope that a proposal by Russia to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control could avert a US military strike.

Three changes to the composition of the Dow were announced early Tuesday. Of the companies being anointed blue chips, Goldman Sachs Group rose 3.54%, Visa added 3.38% and Nike advanced 2.17%. Of the Dow members being removed, Bank of America gained 0.9%, while Alcoa slipped 0.31% and Hewlett-Packard lost 0.4%.

"The Syria story is moving to the background," Newedge director of market strategy Robbert van Batenburg said.

"The reduction of the possibility of an imminent [military] strike is helping the market here."

Waning tensions about Syria have helped fuel the market's recent gains. Syria has said this week that it would agree to a Russian proposal to put chemical-weapons stores under international control for subsequent destruction. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that a group of senators is drafting a resolution that would postpone a military strike against Syria to give the United Nations time to pursue a diplomatic solution.

President Barack Obama is slated to address the nation on television Tuesday evening.

Newedge's Mr van Batenburg said the market's recent strength has been underpinned by an element of "short covering," which refers to the buying back of short positions, or bets that the market prices would decline.

"There has been some reversing of the selling that came in during August by people expecting more volatility," given concerns about Syria and that the Federal Reserve would start winding down stimulus as early as this month, Mr van Batenburg said.

But Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at New York-brokerage firm ConvergEx Group, said he was encouraged that over the last couple sessions, the buying he's seen "has been more organic" than last week, "with people putting some money to work."

The reduced worries about Syria weighed on crude-oil prices. That gave investors another reason to cheer, as lower oil and gasoline prices put more money into people's pockets, ConvergEx's Mr Colas said. October crude-oil futures dropped 1.9% to settle at $107.39 a barrel.

Meanwhile, assets seen as safe havens, like gold and Treasury bonds, took a hit. September gold futures shed 1.6% to $1,364.10 an ounce. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which rises as prices decline, rose to 2.96% from 2.898% late Monday.

The dollar slipped against the euro but gained ground against the yen.

"It's a relief that the Syrian pressure cooker has been toned down a bit," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.

China's industrial output in August rose 10.4% from a year earlier, topping expectations of a 9.9% increase. In addition, retail sales rose 13.4% in August from July's 13.2%. That followed better-than-expected export data on Monday, giving further evidence that the world's second-biggest economy is stabilizing. China's Shanghai Composite climbed 1.2% to a three-month high, after rising 3.4% on Monday.

"We definitely got a lot of good news on the China front," said Anastasia Amoroso, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds. The data "supports the notion that ... activity in China is picking up."

European markets also rallied, with the Stoxx Europe 600 advancing 1.3% to a 3 1/2-month high.

Earlier Tuesday, the National Federation of Independent Business said its small-business optimism index for August slipped to 94 from 94.1 in July, missing expectations of 94.5.

Apple shed 2.28% after the technology heavyweight unveiled at its media event two new iPhone offerings, as expected, and said its new operating system, iOS 7, will launch on Sept. 18 with hundreds of new features.

Dow component McDonald's gained 0.46% after the fast-food chain reported better-than-expected global same-store sales growth, boosted by strong results out of Europe.

Related Articles