Positive International News Pushes the Dow Higher

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Better-than-expected data out of China and a potential nonmilitary solution to the Syrian chemical-weapons situation have stock markets around the world up today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is making news of its own: The Dow Jones Averages Committee has announced three changes to the index's constituents. As of 1:25 p.m. EDT the Dow is up 105 points, or 0.7%, to 15,168. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up 0.66% to 1,683.

China released multiple economic reports suggesting that the country's economy is doing better than many had expected, at least in the short term. Industrial production reportedly rose 10.4% year over year in August, better than July's 9.7% and analyst expectations of 9.9%. The country also reported that retail sales rose 13.4% year over year, beating July's figure and the 13.2% that analysts had expected. China is trying to transition from an export-led economy to one in which consumers play more of a role. While the numbers show the economy to be growing slightly faster than expected, the Chinese banking and real-estate markets have numerous frailties and are still in danger of a credit crisis, which would have far-reaching effects on the global economy.

In Syria, the Russians and Syrians have seized on a comment by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that military conflict could be avoided if Syria immediately handed over all chemical weapons to international monitors. It remains to be seen what will happen, but the oil markets dropped on the news. WTI crude is down 2.36% to $106.94, while Brent crude is down 2.35% to $111.05.

U.S. news

There were two U.S. economic releases today.

Report

Period

Result

Previous

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index

August

94

94.1

Job openings

July

3.7 million

3.9 million

The National Federation of Independent Business' small-business optimism index fell by 0.1 points to 94 as a rise across 5fivecategories was offset by a large drop in respondents' earnings trend.

The second report was from the Department of Labor, whose Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed that job openings fell slightly in July to 3.7 million from 3.9 million. That's still 5.4% above last year's level but not yet approaching the levels seen before the recession in 2008.

US Job Openings: Total Nonfarm Chart

US Job Openings: Total Nonfarm data by YCharts.

Dow changes
There was a big announcement from Dow Jones today that the smallest of the Dow components, Alcoa, Hewlett-Packard, and Bank of America, will be replaced by Goldman Sachs, Nike, and Visa. You can read more about the reasons for the DJIA changes here.

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