MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stocks Rally As Fears Ease Over Hurricane Irma, North Korea

By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica Features Dow Jones Newswires

Insurance companies among day's biggest gainers

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U.S. stocks rose sharply on Monday, with major indexes trading near record levels and on track for their strongest session since March.

Wall Street optimism was underpinned by Hurricane Irma delivering a less forceful hit on Florida than expected and North Korea failing to conduct another nuclear missile test over the weekend, reviving investor appetite for assets perceived as risky such as equities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 255 points, or 1.2%, to 22,053, its biggest one-day percentage rise since March 1.

The S&P 500 was trading in record territory, after adding 25 points to 2,487, a gain of 1%. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 71 points, or 1.1%, to 6,431.

"It's basically a relief rally as there has been less damage from Hurricane Irma than expected and no rocket launches from North Korea. It is hard to understand why the simple lack of bad news is sending prices higher, but we must respect that fact --the momentum is still strong," said Wouter Sturkenboom, senior investment strategist at Russell Investments.

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Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a Category 1 storm early Monday after tearing a destructive path across South Florida on Sunday, leaving about 6 million residents without power.

The day's gains were broad, with all of the 11 main S&P 500 sectors higher on the day. Financials were by far the biggest gainer, up 1.7%. Insurance companies led that sector's gains, boosted by the lighter-than-expected damage from Irma. Travelers Companies Inc.(TRV) climbed 5.1% and was one of the biggest boosts to the Dow, while Progressive Corp (PGR) was up 4.2%. American International Group Inc.(AIG) rose 1.2%.

The PowerShares KBW Property & Casualty Insurance Portfolio(KBWP) spiked 5.2% in its biggest one-day gain since August 2011, but has recently pulled back somewhat.

Read:Though weakened, Hurricane Irma continues to pound Florida (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/worst-case-scenario-as-hurricane-irma-makes-landfall-in-florida-2017-09-10)

Investors may have gotten another break from easing geopolitical tensions. North Korea failed to conduct a missile test over the weekend, which some predicted the country might do to mark the anniversary of its founding.

Stocks to watch: Shares of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.(TEVA) were up 23% after the Israeli drug company on Monday named Lundbeck's Kare Schultz as its new chief executive. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/teva-names-lundbecks-kare-schultz-as-new-ceo-2017-09-11)

Apple Inc. (AAPL) jumped 1.8% and neared record levels. The tech giant will unveil its latest iPhone on Tuesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-apple-iphones-key-feature-is-its-price-tag-2017-09-09).

Tesla Inc.(TSLA) rose 4.6%. The electric-car maker sent out a free software update (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-boosts-range-for-some-vehicles-in-florida-to-escape-irma-2017-09-10) temporarily extending the battery life for some of its cars to help owners evacuate the looming Irma storm.

Need to know:Here's the next catalyst for Tesla that has bulls fired up (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-the-next-catalyst-for-tesla-that-has-bulls-fired-up-2017-09-11)

Shares of Equifax Inc.(EFX) continued to drop in the wake of news that the company suffered a cyberattack in which hackers stole sensitive information, such as social security numbers, of 143 million Americans. The stock is down 5%, adding to a 14% plunge on Friday.

Read: Equifax's data breach costs investors a lot more than it will cost the company (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/equifaxs-data-breach-costs-investors-a-lot-more-than-it-will-cost-the-company-2017-09-11)

Shares of Marstercard Inc. jumped 3.2%, trading at its highest level ever. The stock is up 37% year to date.

Other markets: Asian markets had a largely stronger day (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-rev-up-after-lull-in-north-korea-tensions-2017-09-10), keying off reduced fears over North Korea. The Nikkei 225 index bounced back from its worst week in seven months to gain 1.4% as the Japanese yen, a traditional haven in times of geopolitical and economic stress, weakened.

European stocks continued to press higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-bounce-up-as-appetite-for-risk-returns-2017-09-11), led by gains for insurers as Hurricane Irma lessened in severity.

The ICE Dollar Index rose 0.6% to 91.860, led by gains for the greenback against the yen , which rose to Yen109.07 from Yen107.84 late Friday. Gold , another haven asset, fell $16, or 1.2%, to $1,335.10 an ounce.

Oil prices were mixed, with WTI crude up 1%, to $48.01 a barrel. Brent crude was flat at $53.70 a barrel.

Barbara Kollmeyer contributed to this report.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 11, 2017 14:45 ET (18:45 GMT)