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U.S. Stocks Advance

08/17/2015 | 06:55am US/Eastern

U.S. stocks finished higher Monday, extending last week's gains, as investors shrugged off a weak reading on the manufacturing sector.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 67.78 points, or 0.4%, to 17545.18, springing back from a loss of as much as 136 points shortly after the opening bell.

Major indexes had started the session lower following an unusually weak reading on the New York state manufacturing sector. The data showed business conditions weakening in August to their lowest level since the financial crisis in 2009. But trading activity was among the lightest of the summer, traders said, allowing stocks to rebound on relatively little buying activity.

Around 5.4 billion shares traded Monday, compared with an average daily volume of 6.5 billion shares year-to-date.

"There wasn't a ton of volume out of the gates," said Justin Wiggs, an equity trader at Stifel Nicolaus. "The only thing we had a lot of was apathy."

The S&P 500 rose 10.90 points, or 0.5%, to 2102.44, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 43.46 points, or 0.9%, to 5091.70.

Stocks have stuck to a narrow range this summer as investors grappled with lackluster second-quarter earnings, upheaval in Chinese markets and turmoil over Greek finances. The Dow is down 1.6% so far in August.

With the bulk of second-quarter earnings reports in the rearview mirror, companies in the S&P 500 are on track to post a quarterly decline in profits of 0.8%, according to FactSet, with 465 companies reporting.

"The end of August I think will be quiet now that these China things have kind of settled down," said Michael Antonelli, equity sales trader at Robert W. Baird. "We're still stuck in the middle of this range."

Much of the market's focus in recent sessions has shifted back to when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. Investors widely expect the first increase in short-term rates in nearly a decade this year, possibly as soon as the central bank's next meeting in September.

"I'm like everyone else?I'm really watching what the Fed's going to do," said Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington. A rate increase "is not a done deal by any stretch at this point given the news out of China?Where's the growth engine? Where's the growth in the world? That question leads to a lot of long pauses."

In Europe, major indexes finished mixed. The Stoxx Europe 600 index gained 0.3% while Germany's DAX fell 0.4%. France's CAC 40 index gained 0.6%.

Investors in Europe drew comfort from progress on a new bailout for Greece after ?86 billion (around $96 billion) in loans to Athens were cleared by the eurozone on Friday after markets closed.

Shares of Zulily Inc. soared 49% after Liberty Interactive Corp. said it would acquire the Internet retailer for $2.4 billion.

Shares of Esté e Lauder Cos. fell 6.8% after the makeup and fragrance company reported a fiscal fourth-quarter profit that beat expectations but gave a downbeat outlook.

Tesla Motors Inc. shares added 4.9% after analysts at Morgan Stanley sharply raised their price target on the stock to $465 from $280. Shares closed at $243.15 on Friday.

Shares of Pentair PLC gained 1.5% after the maker of pumps and other industrial products agreed to buy Erico Global Co. for $1.8 billion in cash, including the repayment of debt, after coming under pressure from activist investor Trian Fund Management LP to strike deals.

China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.7% as government funds continued to stabilize the market. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.7%. China eased fears that its currency is headed for a protracted decline by setting the yuan on Monday near Friday's close.

In commodities markets, oil futures fell 1.5% to a fresh six-year low of $41.87 a barrel. Gold added 0.5% to $1118.60 per ounce.

The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury fell to 2.150% as prices rose.

Write to Dan Strumpf at daniel.strumpf@wsj.com

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