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Wall St. surges over 1 percent, looks past Paris attacks

Traders on hold a moment of silence, in response to the Paris attacks, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange November 16, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Noel Randewich

(Reuters) - Wall Street had its strongest session in three weeks on Monday, with sizeable gains in energy shares as investors bet Friday's deadly attacks in Paris would have little long-term impact on the U.S. economy and corporate earnings.

U.S. oil prices rose after French air strikes in Syria in reaction to multiple attacks in Paris on Friday that killed 129 people, with Islamic State claiming responsibility.

Exxon's (XOM.N) shares jumped 3.58 percent and Chevron (CVX.N) rallied 4.38 percent.

The three major U.S. stock indexes had opened with losses but soon turned around, with all closing more than 1 percent higher.

The rally allowed the S&P 500 to recover about half of its losses from last week. The three major U.S. indexes lost more than 3 percent last week after rallying over 8 percent in October.

"Markets are slowly becoming more and more immune to these types of events," said John Brady, managing director at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago. "Right at the opening there was a bit of a panic trade and then from there more steady hands - more professional, deep-pocketed hands - came in and bought the market."

All 10 major S&P sectors rose, led by a 3.25 percent leap in energy (.SPNY), although companies linked to travel and leisure took a hit.

American Airlines (AAL.O) dropped 1.43 percent, United Continental (UAL.N) 1.22 percent and Delta Airlines (DAL.N) 2.16 percent.

Cruise operator Carnival Corp (CCL.N) fell 1.53 percent, while travel company Expedia (EXPE.O) was down 2.13 percent.

Monday's gains hint at a resumption of a rally which began in October and stalled at the start of November, said Frank Davis, director of sales and trading at LEK Securities in New York.

"But the volume is not heavy, so I wouldn't get overly excited," he added.

In their strongest day since Oct 22, the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) ended 1.38 percent higher at 17,482.61 points and the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 1.49 percent to 2,053.17.

The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) jumped 1.15 percent to 4,984.62.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett told CNBC he was not selling any securities as a result of the attacks.

Buffett cut his stakes in Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Wal-Mart (WMT.N) in the quarter to Sept. 30, and raised his holding in IBM (IBM.N), according to a regulatory filing. Goldman was up 0.9 percent. IBM was up 1.5 percent and Wal-Mart 2.6 percent.

Despite uncertainty associated with Friday's attacks in France, Wall Street remains focused on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve could hike interest rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade, Brady and Davis both said.

Last week, U.S. stocks logged their largest weekly loss since August on the back of weak economic data and disappointing earnings from retailers such as Macy's (M.N). The three major U.S. indexes lost more than 3 percent last week after rallying over 8 percent in October.

On Monday, Starwood Hotels (HOT.N) fell 3.63 percent to $72.27 after agreeing to be bought by Marriott International (MAR.O) for $12.2 billion, or $72.08 per share. Marriott rose 1.35 percent.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 2,222 to 822. On the Nasdaq, 1,709 issues rose and 1,091 fell.

The S&P 500 showed four new 52-week highs and 14 lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 16 new highs and 153 lows.

About 6.7 billion shares changing hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 7.2 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

(Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)