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US stocks gained amid Asian economic data

Stock-Market-NewsU.S. stocks advanced, giving the Dow Jones Industrial Average its biggest gain since July 11, as exports from China topped forecasts and corporate acquisitions fueled optimism. Retail sales and industrial production data are also supporting the upbeat in worlds second largest economy.

The S&P 500 gained 1% to 1,671.71 at 4 p.m. in New York, the highest level since Aug. 14. The benchmark gauge has rallied 2.4% over five days for the longest winning streak since July 15. The Dow added 140.62 points, or 0.9%, to 15,063.12. About 5.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 3.2% below the three-month average.

“We’re latching on to the better trading in Asia after the Chinese data,” Robert Pavlik, New York-based chief market strategist at Banyan Partners LLC, said by phone for Bloomberg. His firm manages about $4.4 billion. “The fact that nothing has transpired in Syria is also a positive in a strange sense. The Street is somewhat relieved that the U.S. hasnt engaged in military action yet.”

Fed Bank of San Francisco President John Williams, who has backed high stimulus, said recent economic data signal gradual job market improvement in line with his expectations. The central bank will most likely introduce a gradual, “multi-step” plan for tapering bond buying, Williams said today.

In corporate news, Apple added 1.6% to $506.17. The company will unveil a less expensive version of the iPhone and an upgrade of the iPhone 5 tomorrow, people with knowledge of the matter have said. The device is the country’s top-selling smartphone. FBN Securities Inc. raised its priced target on the stock to $600 from $575 today.

Expedia Inc. climbed 1.9% to $50.64. The provider of online travel services was raised to buy from neutral by Lazard Capital Markets LLC.

Hospital operators fell after Aetna Inc., the third-biggest U.S. health insurer, said that patient volumes will be weak in the third quarter. The comments at a Morgan Stanley conference today may have “spooked” some non-health-care “generalist” investors, who had not anticipated lower admissions, Brian Tanquilut, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in Nashville, Tennessee, said in an interview, cited by Bloomberg.

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