Wall Street higher as manufacturing expands


Wall Street advanced on Monday after a surprise expansion in U.S. manufacturing last month eased concerns about the economy and offset a gloomier outlook in Asia and Europe.

U.S. manufacturing expanded in September for the first time since May as new orders and employment picked up, an Institute for Supply Management report showed.

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Financial stocks led the market's advance with Goldman Sachs Group up 4 percent at $118.27 after the weekly Barron's said Goldman shares could rise at least 25 percent in the next year as capital markets improve.

The ISM's index rose to 51.5 from 49.6 in August, topping expectations for a reading of 49.7, according to a Reuters poll, and breaking above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction.

"Numerically that is a pretty small amount," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at Oakbrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois. "But in terms of looking at the number, it's the difference between seeing contraction and seeing growth. So psychologically that's pretty important."

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 143.88 points, or 1.07 percent, to 13,581.01. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 11.61 points, or 0.81 percent, to 1,452.28. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 13.16 points, or 0.42 percent, to 3,129.39.

The ISM figure came after a survey from Markit showed U.S. manufacturing ended its worst quarter in three years in September as foreign demand for U.S. goods fell sharply.

The U.S. data followed surveys in the euro zone that showed manufacturing slackened in the three months to September while Asia's factories are continuing to struggle in the face of tepid demand from the United States and Europe. The data suggested the euro zone may be moving toward recession and showed a seventh straight quarter of slowing growth in China.

"The U.S. economy is growing at a slow pace but it is still growing. The ISM number suggests that things are not that bad," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive at Sarhan Capital in New York.

The national ISM survey is especially heartening after some weak regional surveys last month. The Chicago PMI, a survey which measures business activity in the Midwest, showed its first contraction since 2009 in September.

Among stocks weighing on the Nasdaq, discount retailer Gordmans Stores Inc said it could miss analysts' profit estimates for the first time since it went public in 2010 as slowing sales forced the company to cut its current-quarter outlook. The stock slumped 24.2 percent to $14.00.

Baidu Inc shares fell 3.7 percent $112.55 after Jefferies cut the stock to hold from buy and lowered the price target to $125 from $135.

The market's gain on the first day of the final quarter of 2012 comes as stocks closed a strong third quarter, helped by stimulative measures from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. The S&P 500 finished the quarter up 5.8 percent, its best third quarter since 2010.

"Despite a recent spate of weaker-than-expected data from across the world, markets are looking forward," said Sarhan. "There is a lot of hope that the worst-case scenario is off the table not only for now, but for good."

Ceradyne Inc shares gained 43 percent to $34.92 on news the company will be acquired by 3M Co for $860 million.

The U.S. Defense Department on Friday awarded United Launch Alliance, which is a 50-50 joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co , a $1.17 billion contract to provide satellite launches using its Delta IV and Atlas V rockets. Boeing shares gained 1.5 percent to $70.62.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos and Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by James Dalgleish)