Wall St up but rally fizzles on support for Syria strike

The New York Stock Exchange stands on Wall Street on Aug 27, 2013 in New York City. United States (US) stocks rose on Tuesday but were far off session highs after top Republicans voiced support for US President Barack Obama's call for military strike
The New York Stock Exchange stands on Wall Street on Aug 27, 2013 in New York City. United States (US) stocks rose on Tuesday but were far off session highs after top Republicans voiced support for US President Barack Obama's call for military strikes against Syria. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - United States (US) stocks rose on Tuesday but were far off session highs after top Republicans voiced support for US President Barack Obama's call for military strikes against Syria.

The S&P 500 rose more than 1 per cent in early trading after Obama sought congressional authorisation before taking military action, a move seen likely to shelve any strike for at least several days. The S&P fell 1.8 per cent last week mainly on uncertainty over what appeared to be an imminent strike.

Mr John Boehner, the top-ranking Republican in the US House of Representatives, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pledged on Tuesday their support for military action against Syria to punish President Bashar al-Assad for his suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Congress returns from its summer recess on Sept 9, and any vote to authorise a strike will come after that.

"People still see uncertainty in Syria and want a decision one way or another. Until we see something more definitive we can see rallies continue to be questionable and a lot of selling pressure," said J.J. Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.65 points or 0.16 per cent, to 14,833.96, the S&P 500 gained 6.8 points or 0.42 per cent, to 1,639.77 and the Nasdaq Composite added 22.743 points or 0.63 per cent, to 3,612.612.

The market found support also from stronger-than-expected data on US manufacturing and construction spending that hinted the world's biggest economy was gaining traction.

Brent crude oil futures rose 1.2 per cent on supply concerns on the increased support for a strike on Syria, and on improving economic data in US and China. US crude futures rose 0.8 per cent.

Nokia Corp agreed to sell its handset business to Microsoft Corp for US$7.2 billion (S$9.2 billion), sending its US shares up 31.3 per cent to $5.12 on record volume. Microsoft fell 4.6 per cent to $31.88 and was the biggest drag on all major indexes.

Verizon Communications agreed on Monday to pay US$130 billion to buy Vodafone Group out of its US wireless business, ending an often tense 14-year marriage.

Verizon lost 2.9 per cent to $46.01 while US shares of Vodafone shed 1.1 per cent to $32.01.

CBS Corp on Monday reached an agreement with Time Warner Cable Inc to end a month-long blackout of its stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Shares of CBS rose 4.7 per cent to $53.50 while Time Warner Cable added 1.8 per cent to $109.25.

About 6.6 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, more than the daily average so far this year of about 6.26 billion shares. On the NYSE, 1,626 issues rose while 1,353 fell and on Nasdaq advancers beat decliners by a ratio of about 9 to 5.