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China and Buffett fuel Wall St. rally, oil rebounds

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Wall Street surged on Monday after a $37.2 billion deal by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and weak Chinese data that boosted hopes for fresh stimulus in the world's No. 2 economy, while oil jumped almost 4 percent.

All three major U.S. stock indices finished more than 1 percent higher after Berkshire Hathaway agreed to buy Precision Castparts, showing investors the M&A boom was alive and well.

Global stock markets also got a lift from hopes that Beijing might take new measures to stimulate the Chinese economy after a report that producer prices in July hit their lowest point since late 2009 and exports tumbled 8.3 percent in the same month.

Expectations of possible restructuring among major shipping firms and in other key sectors helped boost recently battered Chinese stock indices by more than 4 percent.

"It's speculative to take anything away from today's rally. Mostly you see it pronounced in the cyclical sectors ... anything tied to China and the commodities' complex," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.


The outlook in China contrasted with solid U.S. jobs data on Friday, which bolstered expectations that U.S. interest rates would rise as early as September.

The dollar (.DXY) slipped 0.39 percent against a basket of currencies after hitting a four-month high last week.

On Monday, Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said U.S. price inflation was only temporarily "very low," while the U.S. economy has nearly achieved full employment. Separately, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said a decision to raise interest rates should come soon.

Ten-year U.S. Treasury yields were five basis point higher at 2.2251 percent.

"U.S. yields are modestly higher, but dollar/yen needs more widening of the interest rate spread to take it higher," said Jeremy Stretch, head of currency strategy at CIBC World Markets.

Crude oil prices rebounded from lows earlier in the session after a rally in U.S. gasoline and diesel due to a refinery outage. [O/R]

Brent crude (LCOc1) was up 3.7 percent, its largest gain since late May. U.S. crude (CLc1) climbed 2.5 percent, its most in two months. Both benchmarks had dropped for six weeks amid a supply glut.

Wall Street bounced back after losses last week. The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) jumped 1.39 percent to end at 17,615.17. The S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 1.28 percent to 2,104.18, its biggest one-day rise since early May. The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) closed 1.16 percent higher at 5,101.80.


As the Fed has kept interest rates near zero for nearly a decade, debt has been cheap, leading to a rise in merger and acquisition activity.

July was the seventh strongest month for global deal activity since 1980, according to Thomson Reuters data, showing a hunger for acquisitions as the Fed prepares to hike rates.

Through the end of July, cross-border M&A activity totaled $913.5 billion, up 23 percent from a year ago.

"The M&A environment is ripe for more deals and at the end of the year, you will see a lot more deals than what we saw last year," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

The MSCI All-Country World index , which tracks shares in 45 nations, was up 1.1 percent.

Euro zone equities rose after a survey showed investor and analyst sentiment weakened only slightly in August, suggesting a relatively robust economic recovery. Major financial shares got a lift from broker upgrades.

There was also some optimism over Greece, where an official said banks could get a first capital injection soon after a bailout deal is agreed, even before the ECB completes a stress test.

(Additional reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Bernadette Baum)