US STOCKS-Wall St gains on data, Greece package

* Manufacturing growth, construction spending advance

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

* Dow up 0.8 pct, S&P up 0.8 pct, Nasdaq up 1.1 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to midday, changes byline)

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, May 3 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) rose on Monday as
data indicated the economy was on firmer footing, 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 trends there further confirm what investors have been
betting on — the continued progress in the economy,” said
Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc, in
Toledo, Ohio.

Big manufacturers, including Boeing Co (BA.N: ), Caterpillar
Inc (CAT.N: ) and 3M Co (MMM.N: ) helped drive gains for the Dow
index after the Institute for Supply Management reported that
U.S. factory activity rose for a ninth straight month.

Over the weekend, European countries agreed to a 110
billion euro ($146.5 billion) aid 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 sentiment 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 2.4 percent to $22.13, and Continental
Airlines rose 1.9 percent to $22.78.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) rose 89.63 points,
or 0.81 percent, to 11,098.24. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index
(.SPX: ) gained 9.09 points, or 0.77 percent, to 1,195.78. The
Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) was up 27.11 points, or 1.10
percent, at 2,488.30.

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 2 percent gain in Apple Inc (Read more about Apple stock future.) (AAPL.O: ) after the company
said sales of the iPad since the device’s April launch passed
the 1 million milestone faster than expected. Apple shares were
up at $266.30. [ID:nN03193218]

U.S.-listed shares of BP Plc (BP.L: ) (BP.N: ) were the second
most traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange, falling 7.4
percent to $48.29. 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 2.9 percent to
$149.43.

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(Editing by Leslie Adler)

US STOCKS-Wall St gains on data, Greece package