US STOCKS-Wall St higher as Syria fears ease, earnings in focus

Reuters

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    * UnitedHealth up ahead of earnings, Netflix down
    * Merck rises on positive Keytruda drug data
    * Optical stocks hit by report of ban on supplying ZTE
    * Indexes up: Dow 0.93 pct, S&P 500 0.86 pct, Nasdaq 0.73
pct

 (Updates to late afternoon, adds commentary, changes byline,
adds New York dateline)
    By Sinéad Carew
    NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Monday
with technology and healthcare shares leading the way as
investors appeared less concerned about possible retaliation for
the U.S.-led missile attack in Syria.
    The weekend's air strikes marked the biggest intervention by
Western countries against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and
his ally Russia, which is facing further economic sanctions over
its role in the conflict.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N1RT2KB
    The gains on Wall Street were broad-based as investors
appeared to shift focus to the U.S. earnings season in which
corporate tax cut benefits are expected to be a highlight.
    "The catalyst had been the concern about trade issues, which
is calming down. The bombing in Syria looks to be an event
rather than an ongoing thing and it was a coalition," said
Jeffrey Carbone, managing partner, Cornerstone Wealth, in
Huntersville, North Carolina. "Now we get to concentrate on
fundamentals ... Earnings is kicking in and the economic data is
still good and shows an accelerating economy."   
    S&P 500 companies are expected to report an 18.6 percent
jump in first-quarter profit, on average, the biggest rise in
seven years, according to Thomson Reuters data. 
    At 2:26 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI 
rose 227.2 points, or 0.93 percent, to 24,587.34, the S&P 500
 .SPX  gained 22.91 points, or 0.86 percent, to 2,679.21 and the
Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  added 51.62 points, or 0.73 percent, to
7,158.27.
    The S&P 500's technology sector  .SPLRCT  was the biggest
boost to the benchmark with a 0.8-percent increase followed by
the healthcare index  .SPXHC  which was up 0.97 percent.
    UnitedHealth  UNH.N  provided the second-biggest boost to
the S&P from a single stock a day ahead of its earnings report
with a 2.9 percent gain, just behind Microsoft Corp  MSFT.O ,
which was up 1.2 percent.
    Merck  MRK.N  rose 2.2 percent after the company presented
positive data on its cancer drug Keytruda, also boosting the S&P
healthcare index.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1RT0TZ
    Shares of optical components makers, including those of
Acacia Communications  ACIA.O  and Oclaro  OCLR.O , took a
beating after Reuters reported that the U.S. government was
banning American companies from selling components to Chinese
telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp  0000063.SZ  0763.HK . Acacia
fell 34.4 percent, compared with a 13-percent drop for
Oclaro. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1RT0H3
    JB Hunt Transport Services  JBHT.O  jumped 6.6 percent after
the trucking company's profit topped estimates.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1RT50S
    Bank of America  BAC.N  was up 1 percent after a
better-than-expected increase in quarterly profit.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1RT46T
    Netflix  NFLX.O  fell 2 percent. The company was due to
reports results after the closing bell on Monday.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1RT1EU
    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
2.75-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.04-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
    The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 66 new highs and 27 new lows. 

 (Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing
by Anil D'Silva and Nick Zieminski)
 ((sinead.carew@thomsonreuters.com; +1 (646) 223 6186; Reuters
Messaging: sinead.carew.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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