Wall St rallies in first session of year

Wall Street stocks kicked off 2012 with a rally on Tuesday after data showed U.S. manufacturing activity and construction spending picked up, signaling the economic recovery was gaining steam.
Investors, looking to put cash to work after a tough year in 2011, were also encouraged by data from China and Germany suggesting improvement in those major economies. The broad S&P index has risen more than 10 percent from its November 25 close.
The pace of growth in U.S. manufacturing accelerated in December, its best month since June, while a rise in new orders suggested decent momentum in 2012. Separately, construction spending in November surged to the highest in nearly 18 months.
“The beginning of the year tends to start out positive as people want to put money to work, but the overseas data can’t be overstated in its importance, especially since the U.S. data has been so strong as well,” said Sal Catrini, a managing director for equities at Cantor Fitzgerald & Co in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 178.54 points, or 1.46 percent, at 12,396.10. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 18.63 points, or 1.48 percent, at 1,276.23. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 38.44 points, or 1.48 percent, at 2,643.59.