S&P 500 gains for sixth straight session, Apple falls

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 index advancing for its longest stretch since early July, as an alternative proposal emerged that could avert a possible Western military strike on Syria.

Encouraging economic data from China reinforced the view the world's second-largest economy was stabilizing and gave investors further reason to buy.

All 10 S&P industry sectors ended higher, though energy was pressured by a drop in crude oil prices. Tech shares also came off their highs as Apple Inc fell sharply, weighing on the S&P and Nasdaq.

Analysts said new developments about Syria reduced risk for financial markets as Syria accepted a Russian proposal to give up chemical weapons and win a reprieve from U.S. military strikes.

"Several things continue to calm investors and make equities look attractive," said Paul Zemsky, head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management in New York.

"The new proposal creates a potential scenario where the U.S. doesn't have to go in militarily. We were worried not just about Syria, but also the impact that this would spread to other nations in the Middle East."

After the S&P 500 posted its worst monthly performance since May 2012 in August, the broad index has rallied 3.1 percent over the past six straight sessions of gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 127.94 points, or 0.85 percent, at 15,191.06. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 12.28 points, or 0.73 percent, at 1,683.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 22.84 points, or 0.62 percent, at 3,729.02.

Geopolitical uncertainty has driven market movement in recent weeks, with investors especially watching global oil prices for any sign that military action could constrain supply. With that threat seemingly less likely, oil prices fell 2 percent on Tuesday.

Shares of Apple fell 2.3 percent to $494.65 after the company's latest product unveilings, which included two new versions of its iPhone line.

About 6.5 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, above the daily average so far this year of about 6.24 billion shares. About 64 percent of companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange closed higher on Tuesday while 64 percent of Nasdaq-listed shares ended up.

Economic data in China showed stronger-than-expected industrial output while retail sales grew at the fastest pace this year.

"Investors were worried about how far China would have to fall until it found some kind of economic equilibrium, and it looks like it found the level," said Zemsky, who helps oversee $180 billion. "That calms fears that the major sources of growth are still out there and not sputtering along."

S&P Dow Jones Indices announced the biggest shake-up for the Dow Jones Industrial Average in almost a decade, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc , Visa Inc and Nike Inc replacing Bank of America Corp , Hewlett-Packard Co and Alcoa Inc , respectively. The changes will take effect on September 23.

Goldman rose 3.5 percent to $165.14 while Visa gained 3.4 percent to $184.59 and Nike advanced 2.2 percent to $66.82. Alcoa lost 0.4 percent to $8.05, Bank of America added 0.9 percent to $14.61 and HP shed 0.4 percent to $22.27.

McDonald's Corp gained 0.5 percent to $96.89 after the fast-food restaurant chain reported a higher-than-expected 1.9 percent increase in global sales at established restaurants in August.

Urban Outfitters Inc slumped 10 percent to $38.35 as the S&P's biggest loser after Janney Montgomery Scott cut its price target on the stock to $46 from $52.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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