US STOCKS-Optimism on economy a broad boost for Wall Street

* Manufacturing growth, construction spending advance

* UAL to acquire Continental, form world’s largest airline

* Dow up 1.5 pct, S&P up 1.4 pct, Nasdaq up 1.7 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to midafternoon)

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, May 3 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) rose broadly on
Monday as data showed the economy’s recovery remained on track,
and details of a European financial rescue package for Greece
provided a measure of relief.

The U.S. manufacturing sector grew in April at its fastest
pace in almost six years, according to an industry report,
while the government reported an unexpected rise in
construction spending in March, marking the first advance since
October. For details, see [ID:nN03193333]

The manufacturing data helped boost shares of big
manufacturers in the Dow index, including Caterpillar Inc
(CAT.N: ), up 2.7 percent at $69.94, and 3M Co (MMM.N: ), up 1.5
percent to $89.98.

“It’s more good economic news, and that’s what can keep the
rally going,” said Scott Marcouiller, senior equity market
strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis.

“It’s a very broad rally, but volume is very low today,
which makes it easier to make things look better.”

Major stock indexes rose 1.4 percent or more in
midafternoon trading, building on gains from a deal in Europe
to provide a fiscal aid package to Greece.

Over the weekend, European countries agreed to a 110
billion euro ($146.5 billion) package for debt-laden Greece,
the biggest ever financial bailout of a country. The agreement
provided relief to Wall Street investors, but in the currency
market, investors fretted whether Germany would secure
parliamentary approval to release the money by a mid-May
deadline, driving down the euro. [ID:nSGE64208W]

Sentiment was also buoyed after UAL Corp (UAUA.O: ), the
parent of United Airlines, said it agreed to buy Continental
Airlines Inc (CAL.N: ) for $3.2 billion in stock in a deal that
would form the world’s largest airline. [ID:nN02143069]

UAL shares rose 1.9 percent to $22.01, and Continental
Airlines rose 1.9 percent to $22.77.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) gained 162.34
points, or 1.47 percent, to 11,170.95. The Standard & Poor’s
500 Index (.SPX: ) rose 16.93 points, or 1.43 percent, to
1,203.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) was up 40.69
points, or 1.65 percent, at 2,501.88.

Data that showed consumer spending rose in March for a
sixth straight month also lifted the market. Consumer spending,
which accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity,
has remained one of the most fragile aspects of the economy and
investors are eager for signs of growth.

The Nasdaq fared better than the other two indexes, helped
by a more than 2 percent gain in Apple Inc (Read more about Apple stock future.) (AAPL.O: ) after the
company said sales of its iPad since the tablet computer’s
April launch passed the 1 million milestone faster than
expected. Apple shares were up at $267.59. [ID:nN03193218]

U.S.-listed shares of BP Plc (BP.L: ) (BP.N: ) were among the
most heavily traded stocks on the New York Stock Exchange,
falling 5.8 percent to $49.15. The energy giant promised to pay
for the cleanup and compensation claims for a catastrophic oil
spill threatening the U.S. Gulf shore and said it was working
to stem the undersea leak. [ID:nN03142622]

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett on Sunday stood by his
feisty defense of a controversial mortgage transaction marketed
by Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: ) that is at the center of
government fraud charges against the bank. Buffet said the
investment bank’s behavior does not warrant public fury.
[ID:nN02162966] Goldman Sachs shares rose 3.4 percent to
$150.11.

Stock Investing

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

US STOCKS-Optimism on economy a broad boost for Wall Street