Closing Bell: Syria Fears and Iffy Mergers Keep Gains in Check

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Stocks Look To Open Higher To Start The Week
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An early stock market rally powered by a strong manufacturing report and word that President Obama would seek congressional approval for any move against Syria faded Tuesday afternoon after it became clear that House Speaker John Boehner was inclined to support U.S. action against Bashar Assad. But markets recovered again to close marginally higher.

The Dow (^DJI) rose 23 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,833, the Standard & Poor's 500 (^GPSC) closed up 6 points at 1,639, and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) finished 22 points higher, or 0.6 percent, at 3,612.

August marked the S&P 500's steepest decline in over a year in as investors worried about when the Fed will dial back its bond-buying economic stimulus plan. Given that, other political gamesmanship in Washington, and historical patterns for the month, analysts are generally bearish looking ahead for September. But countervailing winds are also blowing: U.S. manufacturing grew in August at its fastest pace since June 2011, and construction spending rose 0.6 percent in July, reflecting solid gains in the housing market.

In company news, CBS (CBS) jumped 4.6 percent, to $53.47 after it reached a deal with Time Warner Cable on carriage fees, ending a blackout of CBS and CBS-owned channels like The CW. Though the deal was viewed as a win for CBS, Time Warner Cable (TWC) shares also rose by 1.7 percent to $109.15.

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Microsoft (MSFT) fell $1.62, or 4.9 percent, to $31.78 after the software company announced it was buying Nokia's smartphone business and a portfolio of patents and services for $7.2 billion. The deal is viewed as Microsoft's "hail Mary" effort to capture a significant share of the mobile computing market, in which Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) are the major players. Nokia (NOK) finished the day up more than 30% to $5.09.

Verizon (VZ) fell $1.33, or 2.8 percent, to $46.05 after it inked a $130 billion deal to buy out the 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless owned by British telecom Vodafone (VOD), which also closed down 1.1 percent at $32.01.

Ford Motor (F) is recalling 370,000 vehicles in response to concerns about extreme corrosion that could lead to steering control loss. The recall affects Ford Crown Victoria, Lincoln Town Car and Mercury Grand Marquis models sold in more than 20 states and Canada. Nonetheless, Ford shares rose 13 cents to $16.32

Amazon (AMZN) revealed details about the next generation of the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, which will start shipping Sept. 30. The new model will feature only minor improvements including sharper display, expanded dictionary and faster computer hardware. Amazon shares rose 2.8 percent to $288.80.

Citigroup (C) will sell more than $6 billion in private equity and hedge fund assets to comply with the Volcker Rule, which is set to go into effect in 2014. Citigroup shares rose 2 percent to $49.31.

More Stocks in the News:
  • Barclays upgraded its outlook on oil and gas well contractor Key Energy Services (KEG), based on its long-term prospects in Mexico and its 2013 operations in the U.S. Shares rose 40 cents, or 6 percent, to $7.07 in afternoon trading.
  • Shares of fledgling pharmaceutical firm Cytokinetics (CYTK) plunged 27 percent to $7.65 after the company's heart failure drug did not meet its main goal in a clinical trial. But analysts noted that the study included promising results at higher dosages.

What to Watch Wednesday:
  • At 8:30 a.m., the Commerce Department releases international trade data for July.
  • Automakers will release vehicle sales figures for August.
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