New York Report: Stocks edge up despite worry over Syria plan

US STOCKS closed modestly higher last night as the economy showed signs of improvement but uncertainty over possible military action against Syria continued to pressure markets.

Talks that could lead to a major deal in which US phone company Verizon buys the part of Verizon Wireless it doesn’t already own from Vodafone helped push stocks higher.

Wall Street was solidly higher most of the session but pared gains in the last hour on concerns over Syria. Many in the market expect a strike by the United States and its allies because of an alleged poison gas attack by government forces that killed Syrian civilians. US officials said a response would be “discrete and limited.”

“That there will be an attack is priced into markets, but there’s no way the market appreciates the implications beyond that if the US were to go to war,” said Joe Tanious of JP Morgan Funds in New York. “It will create side effects the market isn’t aware of, with the impact on oil the main complication.”

US crude futures have spiked 2.2 per cent this week on tensions oil supply from the Middle East will be interrupted.

Stocks rose after the government said in an upwardly revised estimate the economy expanded by a stronger-than-expected 2.5 per cent in the second quarter. In a separate report, it said weekly jobless claims fell more than anticipated last week, boosting morale.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 16.36 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 14,840.95. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 3.21 points, or 0.20 per cent, at 1,638.17.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 26.95 points, or 0.75 per cent, at 3,620.30.