Wall St rallies on Chinese data

Upbeat Chinese export data helps distract US investors from ongoing Syrian tensions, boosting Asian outlook.

United States stocks closed strongly higher, helped by optimism that a military strike on Syria might be avoided and fresh Asian data that bolstered the global economic outlook.

At the closing bell on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 138.85 points, or 0.93%, to 15,061.35 points.

The broad-based S&P 500 increased 16.39 points, or 0.99%, to 1,671.56 points.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index put on 46.17 points, or 1.26 points, at 3,706.18 points.

Stock benchmarks got an early boost after China reported a pickup in exports in August, and news from Syria helped calm investor jitters about the region.

"It seems like the Chinese export engine is gearing up a little bit," ING US Investment Management chief investment officer Paul Zemsky said.

The good news follows positive data from Europe last week, when readings on economic activity in the area indicated expansion. Mr Zemsky said that data on overseas growth have been key recently, since large US companies get a significant chunk of sales from international markets.

"We really like to see better growth outside the US and stable growth in the US," he said.

"If growth is too fast in the US, there's the belief that there's more" likelihood the Fed will tighten policy.

China's good news follows positive data from Europe last week, when readings on economic activity in the area indicated expansion.

The materials sector, seen as closely tied to commodities demand from China, led the S&P 500, rallying 1.5%. Industrials shares, also seen as tied to the region's economy, were up 1.2%.

Technology shares also gave stock benchmarks a boost as heavyweight Apple rallied 1.6%. The company is expected to unveil two new iPhones this week and is preparing to ship iPhones to China Mobile, China's largest wireless carrier.

Meanwhile, a Russian offic ial showed signs of a rare agreement between the Russian and US governments, urging Syria to destroy its chemical weapons. Syria said it welcomed Russia's proposal, without indicating whether it would comply.

The market's gains reflect "a sigh of relief on Syria," Mr Zemsky said. "The political environment has simmered down."

On Friday, the government's closely watched jobs report showed fewer jobs were created in August than expected, and figures from previous months were revised sharply lower. That prompted speculation that the Fed won't severely scale back stimulus measures this month, giving a boost to Treasurys.

Treasury prices edged higher Monday, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note slipping to 2.919%. The yield had briefly risen above three% in overnight trading heading into last Friday's jobs report, its first foray there in more than two years.

The US economic calendar was nearly bare. Consumer credit for July increased by $10.4 billion. There were expectations of a $14 billion rise.

Asian markets rallied, highlighted by a 3.4% surge in China's Shanghai Composite to a three-month high after the data. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average gained 2.5% following a report showing that the economy grew faster in the second quarter than initially estimated.

European markets closed lower. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.1% in quiet trading, snapping a three-session winning streak.

Crude-oil futures slid 1.4% to $109.56 a barrel, while gold futures were nearly flat, rising less than 0.1% to settle at $1,386.80 a troy ounce. The dollar gained ground against the yen but edged lower against the euro.

In corporate news, Delta Air Lines gained 9.4% after S&P Dow Jones Indices said late Friday it was adding the air carrier's stock to the S&P 500 after Tuesday's close. Delta will replace BMC Software, which is being acquired by Bain Capital.

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