(Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Monday on waning fears that the weekend’s U.S.-led missile attack on Syria would escalate into a broader conflict and a rise in healthcare shares after Merck’s positive update on a cancer drug.
Saturday’s strikes marked the biggest intervention by Western countries against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally Russia, which is facing further economic sanctions over its role in the conflict.
“The action was well-received ... and that’s giving a chance for investors to focus on macro news and earnings,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
“It’s not going to be a negative unless it turns into a bigger conflict. It’s going to be a day where the market is going to attempt to move a bit higher.”
Healthcare stocks .SPXHC rose 0.76 percent on the S&P 500, driven by Merck’s (MRK.N) 3.2 percent rise following positive data on its immunotherapy, Keytruda.
Shares of Bank of America (BAC.N) edged lower despite the lender reporting a better-than-expected increase in quarterly profit.
Analysts are expecting the S&P 500 companies to record an 18.6 percent rise in profit, their strongest earnings growth in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
However, many traders say that reactions to results could be muted as market participants have already priced in gains from corporate tax cuts, reflected in the stock market’s strong rally in 2017 and early 2018.
At 9:53 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 0.59 percent at 24,502.89. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.41 percent to 2,667.22 and the