Stocks Advance to Start Second Half as Global Growth Strengthens

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock markets were rising to start July and the second half of 2013 on Monday as investors embraced reports showing manufacturing and spending growth across developed economies.

The S&P 500 rose 0.5% to close at 1,614.96 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4% to 14,974.96. The Nasdaq was tacking on 0.9% to 3,434.49.

Best Buy ( BBY) climbed to a two-year high surging 8.8% to $29.74 after shares of the electronic retailer were reinstated at Credit Suisse with an "outperform" recommendation. The Credit Suisse analysts said the stock has become their "best near term idea."

Intuit ( INTU) jumped 3.5% to $63.15 after the business and financial management solutions company announced it has agreed to sell Intuit Financial Services to private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $1.025 billion, pending regulatory review. Intuit said the move reflects the firm's goal to intensify its focus on its small business and consumer tax businesses.

"With earnings season just around the corner, future Fed policy uncertain, and economic data still mixed, we suggest volatility is likely to remain relatively high in the seasonally weak summer months," Gina Martin Adams, New York-based senior analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, cautioned in a note. But she wrote that she's sticking to her defensive and domestic sector recommendations, with an overweight rating on financials, health care and consumer staples.

The European markets were higher after Markit's final eurozone Purchasing Managers' Index showed an increase to a 16-month high of 48.8 in June from May's estimate of 48.3. The FTSE 100 in London was rising 1.45% and the DAX in Germany was gaining 0.33%.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan increased to a one-month high Monday, settling up 1.28% to 13,852.50 as investors were encouraged by an upbeat business sentiment survey, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Bank of Japan's aggressive stimulus measures. The Shanghai Composite showed resiliency, erasing earlier losses despite concerns about a slowing economy to settle at a one-week high, up 0.81% to 1,995.24. Overnight, the final estimate on the China HSBC PMI for June fell to a nine-month low of 48.2.

In the U.S., the Institute for Supply Management's ISM Manufacturing Index showed that conditions in the manufacturing sector improved in June, rising back above 50 last month after spending one month below the 50 mark. The gauge rose to 50.9 in June from 49 in May, beating the average economist expectation of 50.5 for June. But beneath the headline number lay mixed subcomponent data, with new orders rising back above 50 but the employment index falling below 50.

Meanwhile the Census Bureau reported that construction spending increased by 0.5% in May after edging up by a downwardly revised 0.1% in April. A rise of 0.6% for May was expected.

Before the open, the final Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for June posted a reading of 51.9, signaling a modest expansion for the month. But having fallen from 52.3 in May, and dropping below the earlier flash estimate of 52.2, the PMI indicated the slowest rate of growth since last October.

Investors on Monday are also looking ahead to the unofficial start to the second-quarter earnings season on July 8, with Alcoa's ( AA) earnings report as well as the official June nonfarm payrolls report this Friday.

Citigroup ( C) advanced 0.6% to $48.25. The bank said it will pay Fannie Mae ( FNMA) nearly $1 billion to resolve potential repurchase claims on faulty mortgages sold to the housing giant between 2000 and 2012.

Insmed ( INSM) was plunged 19% to $9.72 after an experimental, once-daily antibiotic from Insmed was judged to be statistically equivalent to a currently approved, twice-daily antibiotic from Novartis ( NVS ) in treating cystic fibrosis patients with serious lung infection, according to results from a phase III study announced Monday.

Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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