U.S. stocks gain as investors weigh economic data, Syria crisis

U.S. stocks rose, following the worst month since May 2012 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as investors weighed better-than-forecast economic data against possible military action against Syria.

CBS Corp. jumped 4.2% after the broadcaster’s programs returned to Time Warner Cable Inc. Microsoft Corp. slipped 4.9% after agreeing to buy Nokia Oyj’s mobile-phone business and license its patents for 5.44 billion euros ($7.2 billion). Verizon Communications Inc. dropped 2.9% after agreeing to buy Vodafone Group Plc’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.4% to 1,639.86 at 3:31 p.m. in New York, paring an earlier advance of as much as 1.1%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 23.46 points, or 0.2%, to 14,833.77. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 8.2% above the 30-day average at this time of day. U.S. exchanges were closed yesterday for the Labor Day holiday.

“The economy, things are coming in pretty good,” Karyn Cavanaugh, a vice president and market strategist at ING U.S. Investment Management in New York, said in a phone interview. Her firm oversees about $190 billion. “We know there are a lot tensions in the Middle East. If you wait for the dust to settle in order to get in the market, you’re going to be waiting forever. Look at the fundamentals and if the fundamentals are increasing, that’s your directional signal.”

Stocks pared gains today after Speaker of the House John Boehner said he will support President Barack Obama’s call for action against Syria. Obama urged Congress to take a “prompt” vote authorizing military action against Syria and won endorsement for the cause from the two top Republicans in the U.S. House.

Military Response

Backing from Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor will help Obama as he makes his case to lawmakers who’ve questioned the evidence presented by the administration that the Syrian government was behind a sarin gas attack last month or whether the U.S. has a vital interest in the region.

Obama announced on Aug. 31 that he’d seek support from Congress for a military strike in Syria. The decision came after the president said previously that he had authority to order a military mission.

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