U.S. stocks rise as Obama weighs Syria alternatives, Apple drops

U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index higher for a seventh straight day, as diminishing concern over a military strike against Syria offset Apple Inc.’s biggest decline since May.

International Business Machines Corp. surged 2.1% after agreeing to sell its customer-care outsourcing business to Synnex Corp. for $505 million. Marriott International Inc. increased 2.9% after a Chinese land developer said he wants to buy hotel-management companies in the U.S. Apple plunged 5% as the price of its new lower-cost iPhone disappointed analysts.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2% to 1,686.45 at 3 p.m. in New York, erasing an earlier loss of 0.3%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which includes IBM and not Apple, jumped 96.77 points, or 0.6%, to 15,287.83, the highest since Aug. 15. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 3.1% above the 30- day average at this time of day.

“We’re not out of the woods on news from Syria yet, but for the time being the market has digested the decision to delay action,” Russell Croft, who helps manage $900 million as a Croft-Leominster Inc. fund manager in Baltimore, said by phone. “Right now all eyes are on next week’s Fed meeting, that’ll be the big driver in the market with a few data points between now and then.”

The S&P 500 advanced 3.1% so far in September through yesterday as reports showed China’s economy has strengthened, while concern abated that the U.S. will soon bomb Syria.

Syria Debate

President Barack Obama said last night in an address from Washington that he will pursue a proposal by Russia for Syria to surrender its stockpiles of chemical weapons to international authorities. He had said he would ask Congress to authorize the use of military force against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime following a suspected chemical-weapons attack on Aug. 21 that the U.S. says killed more than 1,400 people.

The tensions over Syria have recently overshadowed investor concern that the Federal Reserve will pare back its record stimulus following its Sept. 17-18 meeting. The central bank is watching economic data as it considers reducing the monthly $85 billion in asset buying.

Economists estimate the Fed this month will taper its monthly bond buying by $10 billion, to $75 billion, according to the median of 34 responses in a Bloomberg News survey. The stimulus has helped the S&P 500 rally as much as 153% since the beginning of the bull market in March 2009.

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