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Wall Street Closes Higher              08/03 15:58

   Stocks started August with more gains, and a worldwide rally on Monday sent 
Wall Street back to where it was just a couple days after it set its record 
earlier this year

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks started August with more gains, and a worldwide 
rally on Monday sent Wall Street back to where it was just a couple days after 
it set its record earlier this year.

   The S&P 500 tacked 0.7% more onto its four-month winning streak, and Big 
Tech once again led the way. The index rose 23.49 points to 3,294.61 to get 
within 3% of its record for the first time since February.

   The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 236.08 points, or 0.9%, to 26,664.40. 
The gains for tech stocks, particularly Microsoft and Apple, pushed the Nasdaq 
composite up 157.52, or 1.5%, to 10,902.80, another record.

   Helping to launch markets higher were reports showing manufacturing activity 
strengthened across Europe in July by more than economists expected. The gains 
built higher after a separate report showed U.S. manufacturing growth 
accelerated last month at a faster pace than economists expected.

   The data added to evidence that the global economy halted its freefall from 
earlier this year, at least temporarily. Earlier on Monday, a private survey 
showed China's manufacturing activity also grew at a faster rate in July than 
expected.

   Such budding improvements have helped the S&P 500 nearly erase its 
pandemic-caused plunge, which had reached nearly 34% at one point. So have 
massive amounts of aid for the economy from the Federal Reserve.

   Still, "there is clear confusion among investors," said Mark Hackett, chief 
of investment research at Nationwide. Even though the stock market is 
indicating a steady recovery, he said big moves in the foreign-currency and 
gold markets are "suggesting greater disruption."

   In Washington, meanwhile, slow, grinding negotiations on another huge relief 
effort for the U.S. economy are ongoing. Both the Trump administration 
negotiating team and top Capitol Hill Democrats reported progress over the 
weekend, though differences remain.

   The discussions have taken on more urgency because $600 in weekly benefits 
for laid-off workers from the federal government have expired, just as the 
number of layoffs ticks up across the country amid a resurgence of coronavirus 
counts and business restrictions.

   The continued spread of the coronavirus is raising worries that the economy 
could backslide again and snuff out the budding improvements it's shown. The 
shakeout from the pandemic took down two more big retailers over the weekend, 
with Lord & Taylor and the owner of Men's Wearhouse both filing for bankruptcy 
protection on Sunday.

   Through the pandemic, though, Big Tech has remained almost immune to such 
concerns on expectations that it can continue to grow.

   Microsoft jumped 5.6% Monday after it confirmed that it's in talks to buy 
the U.S. arm of TikTok, a Chinese-owned video app that is very popular but has 
also drawn the White House's scrutiny. Microsoft said its CEO, Satya Nadella, 
has talked with President Donald Trump about it, and the tech giant expects the 
talks with TikTok to end no later than Sept. 15, either with a deal or not.

   Apple added 2.5%, piling more gains onto its 10.5% rise Friday following a 
blowout report showing that its profits during the spring easily topped Wall 
Street's expectations.

   "Earnings from tech companies were great, so we have the all-clear to buy 
the sector," said Jason Brady, CEO at Thornburg Investment Management. "We also 
got the all-clear from the Fed that money will stay cheap --- real interest 
rates will stay low --- and there is zero appetite for considering the costs of 
this position."

   Across the market, corporate profits have come in for the spring that 
weren't quite as bad as analysts were expecting. Roughly two-thirds of the way 
into earnings season, 84% of S&P 500 companies have reported stronger results 
than expected, according to FactSet. If it stays at that level, it would be the 
highest since FactSet's records began in 2008.

   Microsoft and Apple are also the two biggest in the U.S. stock market, which 
gives their movements huge sway over indexes. The pair alone accounted for most 
of the S&P 500's gain.

   Health care stocks were also strong, with Varian Medical surging 22% for the 
biggest gain in the S&P 500. Germany-based Siemens Healthineers said it will 
buy the cancer therapy and research company in a deal worth roughly $16.4 
billion.

   Germany's DAX stock index returned 2.7% following the strong reports on 
European manufacturing. France's CAC 40 rose 1.9%, and the FTSE 100 in London 
gained 2.3%.

   In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 2.2%, South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.1% 
and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 0.6%. Stocks in Shanghai rose 1.8%

   The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.55% from 0.53% late Friday.

   Benchmark U.S. crude rose 1.8% to settle at $41.01 per barrel. Brent crude, 
the international standard, climbed 1.4% to $44.15 per barrel.

 
 
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