New York Report: Wall St edges higher as data cheers investors

US stocks edged up yesterday rising for a third day after strong data indicated improving economic conditions, with caution capping gains ahead of Friday’s payrolls report and its implication on the Federal Reserve’s stimulus program.

Markets continue to deal with the possibility of a US-led strike against Syria, and US President Barack Obama faced growing pressure at the Group of 20 summit in Russia not to use military force.

Growth in the US services sector accelerated in August to its fastest pace in almost eight years, while new jobless claims last week fell to a near five-year low. The data bolstered views the Fed could start slowing its bond-buying program as soon as this month.

The equity market is showing resilience in the face of a possible bombing of Syria and a smaller Fed stimulus due to the underlying strength in the economy, said King Lip, chief investment officer at Baker Avenue Asset Management.

He said the case for winding down the Fed's $85 billion a month in asset purchases "is stronger than it has ever been," with Friday's jobs report the tipping point for the decision.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 6.61 points or 0.04 per cent, to 14,937.48, the S&P 500 gained 2 points or 0.12 per cent, to 1,655.08 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.743 points or 0.27 per cent, to 3,658.785.

Fastenal rose six per cent to $48.60 as the best performer on the S&P 500 after the seller of industrial and construction supplies reported a jump in August net sales as well as an increase in customers.