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Overnight Markets: US stocks advance on economic data

The energy sector gained the most as oil prices settled higher at $80.21 a barrel.

Overnight Markets: US stocks advance on economic data

US stocks rose on Wednesday amid stronger-than-expected housing and durable goods orders data while speculation grew that China will add to economic stimulus.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 93 points, or 0.74%, to 12,628. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 12 points, or 0.9%, to 1,332. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 21 points, or 0.74%, to 2,875.

Equities rose after better-than-expected sales of long-lasting US manufactured goods in May, although excluding transportation and defense items, orders were down. In another economic data, signed contracts for home purchases surged to a seven-month high.

Contributing to the positive sentiment, the China Securities Journal said the country may introduce “more proactive” policies to ensure stable growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

However, uncertainty remained ahead of the eurozone leaders' summit, which starts on Thursday. There is little hope from the two-day meeting after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said debt sharing, an idea backed by France, Italy and Spain, would not happen in her lifetime.

The energy sector gained the most as oil prices settled higher at $80.21 a barrel. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp jumped 9% and was the biggest advancer on the S&P 500.

Shares of Lennar Corp, the third-largest US homebuilder, rose 4.8% after it reported a rise in new orders for the fifth straight quarter.

In the healthcare sector, Arena Pharmaceuticals jumped 28.7% on news that US health regulators approved the drugmaker's pill to treat obesity, the first weight-loss drug in 13 years.  Shares of Vivus Inc and Orexigen Therapeutics Inc rose following the FDA approval of Arena's obesity drug. Vivus was up 7.4%, while Orexigen Therapeutics added 20.3%.

The US Supreme Court is on Thursday set to deliver its decision on President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law.

Elsewhere, Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed company, added 3.9% as earnings beat estimates.

In Asia, equities rose on Thursday after robust US economic data and investors awaited the start of a summit on Europe’s debt crisis.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.1% to 115 at 12:44 p.m. in Tokyo. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.2% while China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.1%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.3%. South Korea’s Kospi was little changed and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.2%.

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