* S&P 500 bounces from biggest weekly decline in seven
* Alibaba will begin U.S. IPO process
* JA Solar soars after results, forecast
* Indexes up: Dow 1.13 pct, S&P 0.96 pct, Nasdaq 0.81 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 17 U.S. stocks climbed on
Monday, with the S&P 500 bouncing from its worst weekly drop in
the past seven, as concerns eased over the situation in Crimea,
while economic data indicated the economy was improving after a
The 97-percent vote in Crimea in favor of quitting Ukraine
was condemned as illegal by Kiev and the West, but the
referendum passed without violence.
In response, the United States and European Union imposed
personal sanctions on Russian and Crimean officials involved in
the seizure of Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a
decree recognizing the region as a sovereign state.
The geopolitical tension had weighed on equities last week,
with the S&P 500 falling 2 percent and the CBOE Volatility index
jumping to its highest since early February on Friday.
Economically-sensitive sectors led the way higher on Monday,
with both technology and industrials up 1.3
percent. Google Inc gained 1.6 percent to $1,192.10
while General Electric Co rose 1.3 percent to $25.43.
"It's sort of a relief rally there was no real negative
surprise (in Ukraine). What happened was what was expected,"
said Terry Morris, senior vice president and senior equity
manager for National Penn Investors Trust Company in Reading,
The advance continued a recent trend of investors using
market pullbacks as buying opportunities. Major indexes have not
undergone a sustained pullback in more than a year.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 181.55 points
or 1.13 percent, to 16,247.22, the S&P 500 gained 17.7
points or 0.96 percent, to 1,858.83 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 34.552 points or 0.81 percent, to 4,279.949.
The U.S. Federal Reserve's massive stimulus has helped keep
a floor under equity prices, and market participants are looking
ahead to a two-day meeting of the Fed's policy-setting
committee, which begins Tuesday.
In the latest economic data, manufacturing output recorded
its largest increase in six months in February and factory
activity in New York state expanded early this month.
"It looks like maybe we are thawing out a little bit in
terms of the economic indicators. The market has got it right,
you don't have to be a rocket scientist or a weatherman to
figure out it's been a tough winter," said Doug Foreman,
co-chief investment officer of Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment
Management in Los Angeles.
In company news, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group
Holding Ltd said on Sunday it would begin the
process toward a U.S. initial public offering, ending months of
speculation. Shares of Yahoo Inc, which has a 24
percent stake in the company, jumped 4 percent to $39.11, one of
the best performers on the benchmark S&P index.
JA Solar Holdings Co shares advanced 2.1 percent to
$11.66 after the company posted its first profit in 10 quarters
and forecast higher shipments for the year.
Giant Investment Ltd will acquire Chinese online gaming
company Giant Interactive Group Inc for $3 billion and
take it private, the companies said on Sunday. Shares of Giant
rose 1.7 percent to $11.59.
Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc dropped 11.9 to
$407.16. The company said a trial showed patients taking its
experimental liver disease drug experienced a higher number of
heart-related problems than those given a placebo.
Volume was light, with about 5.21 billion shares traded on
U.S. exchanges, well below the 6.87 billion average so far this
month, according to data from BATS Global Markets.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by
2,182 to 818, while on the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners
1,669 to 936.