Syria Hurdles in Congress Help Lift Wall Street


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Reports suggesting a resolution to give President Obama to go-ahead to strike Syria might not breeze through Congress sent markets into the green on Wednesday.

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Today's Markets

As of 2:20 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 101 points, or 0.68%, to 14934, the S&P 500 rose 13.6 points, or 0.83%, to 1653 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 36.2 points, or 1%, to 3649.

The month got off to a strong start Tuesday, with stocks initially rallying on the back of upbeat corporate news and data. However, those gains were dramatically pared as several key lawmakers backed President Barack Obama's push to strike Syria in response to chemical weapons use.

Congress was expected to take the next steps to authorize the president's plan Wednesday, with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expected to mark up a resolution calling for the strike at 11:30 a.m. ET. While the measure appeared to have fairly wide-ranging support, Republican Senator John McCain said he didn't support the resolution in its current form, according to a report from Reuters. The headlines almost immediately sent the Dow into positive territory.

"The persistent, if somewhat diminished concerns about a potential strike, may continue to drive market sentiment," analysts at Nomura told the Japan-based investment bank's clients.

Traders also got a round of disappointing economic data. The U.S. trade deficit widened to $39.15 billion in July from $34.54 billion in June, considerably higher than estimates of $38.7 billion. The figure is a lagging indicator, but will impact third-quarter gross domestic product.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy grew at a ‘modest to moderate’ pace in July and August, according to the Federal Reserve’s anecdotal Beige Book report. The report said hiring held steady or increased moderately across the central bank’s dozen districts, while price pressures remained mostly subdued.

In Europe, a reading on eurozone GDP showed the 17-member currency bloc grew at an annual pace of 0.3% in the second quarter, matching a previous reading and estimates. However, a survey on the private sector for the month of August was revised down slightly.

In corporate news, the General Motors (NYSE:GM), Chrysler and Ford Motor (NYSE:F) all reported solid August sales. Economists say auto sales are an important indicator of broader consumer spending.

Elsewhere, U.S. crude oil futures fell 67 cents, or 0.61%, to $107.88 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.43% to $2.852 a gallon. Gold slumped $8.10, or 0.57%, to $1,404 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 dropped 0.74% to 2733, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.42% to 6441 and the German DAX slumped 0.65% to 8128.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rose 0.54% to 14054 and the Chinese Hang Seng dipped 0.31% to 22326.

Rich Edson and Chad Pergram contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.