US STOCKS-Wall St up on Fed bets, Syria concern lingers

Fri Sep 6, 2013 1:52pm EDT

* Payroll report misses expectations, unemployment rate falls

* Fed's George favors cutting bond buys to about $70 bln a month

* Geopolitical concerns weigh on market, Syria in focus

* American Tower shares up, to buy Global Tower Partners

* Indexes up: Dow 0.5 pct, S&P 0.5 pct, Nasdaq 0.5 pct

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Sept 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose in volatile trading on Friday after job market data removed some uncertainty about Federal Reserve policy and after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would maintain his long-standing support for Syria if the West were to attack.

The U.S. August payrolls report showed about 169,000 jobs were added, fewer than the 180,000 that had been expected, and July's figure was revised sharply lower. The unemployment rate fell to 7.3 percent, its lowest since December 2008, though the decline reflected a drop in the share of working-age Americans who either have a job or are looking for one.

Many analysts said despite the weak jobs report the U.S. central bank would not adjust plans to slow its stimulus, currently at $85 billion a month in bond purchases.

Kansas City Fed President Esther George, a consistent hawk who has argued for a tapering in bond purchases all year, said reducing purchases to $70 billion a month could be "an appropriate next step toward normalizing monetary policy."

Such a reduction would be in line with expectations that have been falling in the last few months.

"Tapering is going to happen but there is a wide range of opinions in terms of how much the Fed is going to taper," said Joseph Tanious, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management in New York.

"The market is comfortable with the idea (of winding down stimulus) as it is justified by economic growth," he said, pointing to recent data including an almost eight year high in the pace of growth in the U.S. services sector.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 70.01 points or 0.47 percent, to 15,007.49, the S&P 500 gained 8.96 points or 0.54 percent, to 1,664.04 and the Nasdaq Composite added 16.631 points or 0.45 percent, to 3,675.415.

For the week, the S&P 500 is up 1.7 percent and the Nasdaq is up 2.2 percent. The Dow is up 1.1 percent after four weekly declines.

Investors are continuing to assess the possibility of a U.S.-led strike against Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack against its civilians.

Putin made clear on Friday that Russia did not want to be sucked into a war over Syria, signaling that Moscow would maintain ongoing support to Damascus in the event of foreign military intervention.

Tanious said, getting clarity on Russia's point of view helps ease some concerns about the implications of an attack on Syria, but any U.S. intervention is likely to impact oil and other markets.

"The (equities) market is jittery and that is understandable," he said.

Energy prices have been among the most volatile on the issue, with investors concerned that military action in the Middle East will weigh on oil supplies. U.S. crude oil has spiked almost 4 percent over the past two weeks and was up 2 percent on Friday.

Facebook shares rose 4 percent to $44.35 after hitting $44.56, its highest since the stock's debut on Nasdaq more than a year ago.

American Tower Corp rose 5.2 percent to $72.33 after the company agreed to buy Global Tower Partners for $4.8 billion.

E*Trade Financial shares jumped 5.1 percent to $16.35 after Goldman Sachs upgraded the brokerage's stock to "buy" from "neutral" two days after the company received approval to use capital from its bank subsidiary for broader corporate purposes.

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