Stocks Gain as Syria Concerns Trigger Choppy Session

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks closed higher Tuesday as comments from President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Secretary of State John Kerry about a military strike on Syrian government targets created a din of mixed messages, impeding the market's advance.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4% to close at 1,639.77. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.2% to 14,833.96 while the Nasdaq finished the day up 0.6% to 3,612.61.

The S&P posted a choppy session that witnessed a pop at the open on upbeat global manufacturing reports and a slew of deals led by Microsoft's ( MSFT) decision to purchase Nokia's ( NOK) Devices & Services business in a transaction valued at $7.17 billion. But markets turned lower by mid-day on concerns that the U.S. may strike Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical warfare attack.

Microsoft declined by 4.6% to $31.88 following the Nokia announcement of an acquisition that amounts to a big bet by outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer on manufacturing devices. Nokia American depositary receipts surged 31% to $5.12.

Microsoft plans to acquire a Nokia division that makes mobile phones, including the line of Lumia smartphones that run Windows Phone software.

By late-afternoon, investors appeared to return their focus to generally upbeat macroeconomic news highlighted by increased manufacturing output in August, according to data made public by the Institute for Supply Management. The institute's Manufacturing Index showed a rise to 55.7 from 55.4 in July. Economists on average were expecting an edge down to 54, according to a poll of analysts by Thomson Reuters.

The report followed improved manufacturing from both China and Europe, data released on Monday showed.

The final Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for August, published before the open, looked to be consistent with a moderate improvement in overall manufacturing business conditions. The measure came in at 53.1, down from 53.7 in July and below the earlier flash estimate of 53.9.

Verizon Communications ( VZ) slid 2.9% to $46.01 on news of its $130 billion cash-and-stock agreement to buy a 45% stake in Verizon Wireless from U.K. partner Vodafone ( VOD). The transaction would be the biggest deal since Vodafone bought Germany's Mannesmann for $180.95 billion in 2000. Vodafone was off 1.1% to $32.01.

New York-based Verizon said it will pay Vodafone $58.9 billion in cash, funded, as expected, with a $61 billion bridge loan from a number of banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.

CBS ( CBS) jumped 4.7% to $53.50 after reaching a deal with Time Warner Cable ( TWC) to end a four-week blackout of the network's programming for roughly 3 million subscribers to the cable-TV provider. Time Warner Cable advanced 1.8% to $109.25. Programming resumed in millions of homes on Monday evening.

Jarden ( JAH) gained 10% to $47.43 as the consumer products company agreed to buyYankee Candle, the nation's largest maker of scented candles, for $1.75 billion in cash, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

July construction spending numbers exceeded expectations. The Census Bureau reported a gain in spending by 0.6%, up from an upwardly revised unchanged level for the prior month. Economists were forecasting a rise of 0.3%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was dropping by 20/32, raising the yield to 2.862%.

-- Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

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