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Global stocks surge on hopes for more Chinese stimulus

Stocks Take Another Plunge As Investors Eye Interest Rate HikesStocks Take Another Plunge As Investors Eye Interest Rate Hikes
A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.Photograph by Spencer Platt — Getty Images

Stocks rocketed higher Tuesday after weak economic data out of China bolstered hopes of more stimulus measures from the Chinese government.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 300 points, or 1.9%, in the first 15 minutes of trading. The broader S&P 500 index also surged. European stocks were also higher, and the Shanghai Composite Index ended up 2.9%.

Wall Street capped a tough week on Friday, with major indexes closing down more than 1%, after a mixed August jobs report did little to quell uncertainty about whether the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates this month.

China’s imports shrank far more than expected in August, falling for the 10th straight month. Imports fell 13.8% from a year earlier, more than the 8.2% drop economists had expected.

However, Chinese stocks rose Tuesday as a surge in late-afternoon buying helped erase early losses. Late on Monday, China said it would remove tax on dividend incomes for investors who hold stocks for more than a year in an effort to encourage longer-term investment.

“With volatility having receded somewhat during the past few days it appears that investors have been reassessing the potential negative fallout from the slowdown in China,” said Markus Huber, a senior analyst at Peregrine & Black.

Global financial markets have been rattled in recent weeks by fears that China’s slowdown could drag on already sluggish global growth, prompting some investors to bet that the U.S. central bank will delay a hike until the end of the year.

Following Friday’s employment data, futures market traders predicted about a 20% chance a rate hike will come this month, down from around 30% before the jobs report.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 173,000 last month, fewer than the 220,000 that economists polled by Reuters had expected. But the unemployment rate dropped to 5.1%, its lowest in more than seven years, and wages accelerated.

The Fed has said it will raise rates for the first time in nearly a decade when it sees a sustained recovery in the economy. While the labor market has strengthened, inflation remains below the 2% target.

Data on Tuesday showed U.S. small business confidence rose modestly in August, suggesting the economy continued to grow at a steady clip halfway through the third quarter.

Apple (AAPL) shares were up a day before the iPhone maker is expected to unveil new offerings.

Media General (MEG) shares jumped after it said it would buy diversified media company Meredith Corp for about $2.34 billion to create the third-largest local TV station owner in the United States. Meredith was up 11 percent at $51.