US STOCKS-Wall St rises as Syria fears ease; healthcare stocks jump

Reuters

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    * Merck up 3.2 percent on positive drug data
    * March retail sales rise more than expected
    * Indexes up: Dow 0.59 pct, S&P 0.41 pct, Nasdaq 0.19 pct

 (Updates to open)
    By Sruthi Shankar
    April 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Monday on waning
fears that the weekend's U.S.-led missile attack on Syria would
escalate into a broader conflict and a rise in healthcare shares
after Merck's positive update on a cancer drug.
    Saturday's 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 action was well-received ... and that's giving a chance
for investors to focus on macro news and earnings," said Peter
Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities
in New York.
    "It's not going to be a negative unless it turns into a
bigger conflict. It's going to be a day where the market is
going to attempt to move a bit higher."
    Healthcare stocks  .SPXHC  rose 0.76 percent on the S&P 500,
driven by Merck's  MRK.N  3.2 percent rise following positive
data on its immunotherapy, Keytruda.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1RQ297
    Shares of Bank of America  BAC.N  edged lower despite the
lender reporting a better-than-expected increase in quarterly
profit.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N1RT46T
    Analysts are expecting the S&P 500 companies to record an
18.6 percent rise in profit, their strongest earnings growth in
seven years, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
    However, many traders say that reactions to results could be
muted as market participants have already priced in gains from
corporate tax cuts, reflected in the stock market's strong rally
in 2017 and early 2018.
    At 9:53 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  was
up 0.59 percent at 24,502.89. The S&P 500  .SPX  gained 0.41
percent to 2,667.22 and the Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  0.19
percent higher at 7,120.19.
    Waning fears of a broader conflict in Syria pushed
short-dated U.S. Treasury yields to their highest level in
almost a decade, while crude oil prices eased due to a rise in
U.S. drilling activity.  US/   O/R 
    "We're seeing a little bit of an uptick in yields and
pullback in oil, and those are likely to constrain any strong
reaction to earnings and macro news," said Cardillo.
    Data on Monday showed U.S. retail sales increased more than
expected in March, rising after three straight monthly declines,
as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and other
big-ticket items.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nLNSGFEEAZ
    Shares of optical component makers Acacia Communications
 ACIA.O , Oclaro  OCLR.O , Lumentum Holdings Inc  LITE.O  and
Finisar Corp  FNSR.O  were down between 4.2 percent and 33
percent. 
    Reuters reported that the U.S. Department of Commerce was
banning American companies from selling components to Chinese
telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp  0000063.SZ   0763.HK  for
seven years for violating the terms of a sanctions violation
case.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1RT0H3
    Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE for a
2.22-to-1 ratio. On the Nasdaq, a 1.35-to-1 ratio favored
advancers.

 (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil
D'Silva)
 ((sruthi.shankar@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223
8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6749 6328; Reuters Messaging:
sruthi.shankar.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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