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Wall St. up after factory data; Nasdaq 100 hits 15-year high

A New York Stock Exchange logo is displayed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Monday after a raft of manufacturing data globally and strength in healthcare shares following more acquisition activity.

The gains continued Wall Street's momentum in the first trading day of the month after the major indexes posted their best monthly performance in four years in October. The Nasdaq 100 (.NDX) touched its highest intraday level in more than 15 years.

Fresh data on Monday showed U.S. manufacturing activity in October sunk to a 2-1/2-year low, but a rise in new orders offered encouragement. Elsewhere, factory activity in Germany beat economists' estimates, and manufacturing in Central and eastern Europe kept up a robust pace in October.

"The fact that we have got sturdy numbers from outside the U.S. accompanied by a relatively decent...(U.S. manufacturing) report, I think that cocktail was supportive of risk assets getting a boost," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

At 2:31 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) rose 119.89 points, or 0.68 percent, to 17,783.43, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 19.5 points, or 0.94 percent, to 2,098.86 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 65.07 points, or 1.29 percent, to 5,118.82.

As the U.S. earnings seasons winds down, investors are looking to economic data, including Friday's employment report, for clues as to whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates when it meets in December.

The S&P energy index (.SPNY) rose 2.4 percent. Oil majors Exxon (XOM.N) and Chevron (CVX.N) were the two biggest drivers of positive performance for the Dow after both companies posted better-than-expected results on Friday. Chevron gained 4.4 percent to $94.88 and Exxon was up 2.8 percent at $85.09.

The S&P healthcare index (.SPXHC) increased 1.8 percent. Pfizer (PFE.N) rose 3.6 percent and AbbVie (ABBV.N) jumped 5.5 percent, providing the biggest boosts to the sector.

Dyax (DYAX.O) soared 28.8 percent to $35.45 after British drugmaker Shire (SHP.L) said it would buy the company for about $5.9 billion. The Nasdaq biotechnology index (.NBI) was up 3.6 percent.

U.S.-listed shares of Valeant (VRX.N) were up 7.1 percent at $100.47 after short-seller Citron Research said it would not be releasing new allegations against the Canadian drugmaker.

Visa (V.N) fell 3.2 percent to $75.08 after offering to buy Visa Europe for as much as $23.3 billion. The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow and the S&P 500.

Hewlett-Packard started trading after its split. HP Inc (HPQ.N) jumped 13.7 percent to $13.92, while Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE.N) slipped 0.6 percent to $14.63.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,474 to 565, for a 4.38-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 2,179 issues rose and 626 fell for a 3.48-to-1 ratio favouring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 62 new highs and 41 new lows.

(Additional eporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Meredith Mazzilli)