U.S. stocks rise after China data in respite from growth worries

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - U.S. stocks rose from their lowest levels in nearly five months, as Chinese economic-growth data eased investor concern over a hard landing while still leaving open the possibility of government stimulus.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 1.1 per cent to 1,901.08 at 9:33 a.m. in New York, after sliding 2.2 per cent last week.

"You might get a bounce for today considering how severe the selloff was last week, but I don't think we've resolved all the issues in the market," said Nick Sargen, who helps manage US$46.2 billion as chief economist and senior investment adviser for Fort Washington Investment Advisors Inc. "The questions left are how much is China's economy in fact slowing down, and when will we see a floor for the price of oil."

European and Asian stocks rose amid speculation of further Chinese state aid after a report showed gross domestic product expanded 6.9 per cent in 2015, just shy of the government's 7 per cent target, and the least since 1990.

The S&P 500 on Friday slid to its lowest level since Aug. 25. The index was off to its worst-ever start to a year, amid concerns that China's policy interventions won't be enough to stoke growth in the world's second-biggest economy, while oil tumbled to a 12-year low.

The equity benchmark was down almost 12 per cent through Friday from its record set last May, and had slumped more than 9 per cent since the Federal Reserve raised interest rates last month for the first time since 2006. Meanwhile, a measure of volatility has jumped the most since a selloff in August which sent the S&P 500 into its first correction in four years.

While investors fret over the impact China's slowdown will have on global growth, the International Monetary Fund cut its world growth outlook as the commodities slump and political gridlock push Brazil deeper into recession, plunging oil prices hobble Mideast crude producers and the rising dollar curbs U.S. prospects.

The fund also said risks to the global outlook remain tilted to the downside, with the world facing three big adjustments: the emerging-market slowdown, China's shift to growth driven less by exports and manufacturing and the Fed's gradual exit from ultra-low interest rates.