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Overnight Markets: Wall Street gains on factory data

Overnight Markets: Wall Street gains on factory data

Wall Street jumped yesterday, erasing most of Wednesday’s drop, as improving manufacturing data tempered concern about the economy, while news about Facebook and Tesla fulled optimism about deals.

The Dow Jones industrial average increased 93 points or 0.58%, to end at 16,133. The S&P 500 gained 11 points or 0.60%, to finish at 1,840. The Nasdaq Composite added 30 points or 0.7%, to close at 4,268.

US factory activity accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly four years in February, according to Markit's preliminary US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, a bullish economic indicator following a string of weaker-than-expected reports.

New claims for unemployment insurance declined in the latest week, boding well for the job market, but the Philadelphia Fed's gauge of manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracted in February.

Investors shrugged off rising political tensions and violence from Caracas to Kiev. Emerging market growth was also in view after China's flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index declined to a seven-month low in February.

In corporate news, Facebook (FB.O) said late on Wednesday that it would acquire WhatsApp for $16 billion in cash and stock. Facebook shares initially fell on the news, but closed up 2.3% at $69.63 after earlier hitting a record high of $70.11.

Tesla (TSLA.O) shares jumped 8.4% after hitting an intraday record of $215.21 as the electric car maker reported fourth-quarter results that topped expectations on Wednesday after the closing bell.

DirecTV (DTV.O) shares gained 2.9% after the largest US satellite TV company reported fourth-quarter results above analysts' estimates and authorised a $3.5 billion stock-buyback programme.

On the downside, Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) declined 1.8% after the world's biggest retailer reported a drop in US same-store sales and gave an earnings outlook below expectations.

In Asia, shares gained on Friday in morning trade after the larger-than-forecast climb in a measure of US manufacturing tempered concern about global growth.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.9% to 137 as of 9:46 a.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix index rose 1.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.7% and China’s Shanghai Composite slid 0.6%.

South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 0.9% as Samsung climbed 3% to 1.32 million won. Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.6% and Taiwan’s Taiex Index rose 0.7%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index increased 0.5%.

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