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Overnight Markets: Wall Street begins March with robust gains

Financial and technology stocks help bourses register strongest session in a month after data indicated US manufacturing may be stabilising.

Overnight Markets: Wall Street begins March with robust gains

Wall Street registered its strongest session in a month on Tuesday, led by financial and technology stocks, after data indicated manufacturing in the world’s largest economy may be stabilising.

The Dow Jones industrial average surged 2.11% to end at 16,865 points. The S&P 500 jumped 46 points to 1,978 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 2.89% to 4,690, enjoying its strongest day since August helped by a rally in Apple shares.

Equities got a boost after data showed American factory activity in February shrank less than forecast as steadying new orders growth and improving inventories offered signs of stability. Construction spending in January surged to the highest since 2007, while strong auto sales also boosted sentiment.

The data strengthened expectations the US economy is gaining steam after slowing in the fourth quarter.

Financial stocks soared 3.54%, with Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Citigroup (C.N) both rising over 5%. Northern Trust Corp. climbed 5.3% and Legg Mason Inc. added 5.8%. The sector is the worst performer this year, down about 9%, due partly to fears of debt defaults by energy companies.

The technology sector rose 3.08%. Apple (AAPL.O) jumped 3.97%, giving the biggest boost to the S&P and the Nasdaq. Utilities fell 0.49%.

Fiat Chrysler (FCAU.N) added 7.15% and Ford (F.N) gained 4.64% after strong US auto sales in February defied fears of a slowdown after a record 2015.

Tesla Motors (TSLA.O) dropped 2.91% after influential short seller Citron Research predicted the electric car maker would fall to $100 by year-end due to supply and demand problems.

In Asia, share markets were higher in morning trade on Wednesday, taking cues from an overnight rally in risk assets.

The Japanese benchmark index, Nikkei 225, traded up 4.09%, with the yen hovering at the 114 handle against the dollar. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi traded up 1.45%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200, which has a high weightage of financial stocks, gained 1.87% in early trade.

Chinese markets also traded up with the Shanghai composite gaining 1.18%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index added 2.45%.

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