* Oil prices dip, but near recent multi-month highs
* Guess shares rally after strong sales
* Vodafone in talks with Verizon to sell out of U.S. venture
* Indexes up: Dow 0.58 pct, S&P 0.69 pct, Nasdaq 1.16 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Aug 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Thursday on better-than-expected economic data, while a potential Western military strike on Syria appeared to be delayed for now.
Data showed the U.S. economy grew more quickly than expected in the second quarter due to a surge in exports, and weekly initial jobless claims fell last week in a possible sign of improved hiring in August.
“There is no doubt (in) the last couple of days, the markets have bounced and continued to recover from Tuesday’s selloff; a lot of that you can point to the better than expected second quarter GDP numbers this morning,” said David Lyon, investment specialist at JP Morgan Private Bank in San Francisco, California.
Over the past two sessions, the S&P has gained about 0.9 percent but remains down 1.1 percent for the week.
The robust data could bolster the case for the Federal Reserve to soon wind down a major economic stimulus program that has driven a rally of more than 15 percent in the S&P 500 this year. Many market participants expect an announcement about scaling back the Fed’s asset purchases after its next meeting in mid-September.
“I don’t think the market or investors fear the actual tapering effects at this point, the market still needs clarity about how the process and the tapering will unfold.”
Retaliation over the Syrian government’s alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians could be delayed, not only by the U.N. weapons inspectors’ continued presence in Syria, but by the Obama administration’s efforts to coordinate with international partners and growing demands for consultation with U.S. lawmakers.
U.S.-listed shares of Vodafone Group jumped 8.1 percent to $31.80 as the biggest percentage gainer on the Nasdaq 100 index, after the company said it was in talks with Verizon Communications to sell its 45 percent stake in their U.S. joint venture, Verizon Wireless. Verizon shares rose 3.2 percent to $48.07 as one of the top boosts to the Dow.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 86.27 points, or 0.58 percent, to 14,910.78, the S&P 500 gained 11.21 points, or 0.69 percent, to 1,646.17 and the Nasdaq Composite added 41.728 points, or 1.16 percent, to 3,635.077.
Brent crude fell 0.6 percent as traders reassessed supply risks emerging in the Middle East, but prices remained near their highest since February.
US Airways Group Inc, American Airlines and the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday they were open to settling a court fight over whether the two companies should be allowed to merge. US Airways shares rose 4.4 percent to $16.01.
Guess Inc shares jumped 12.2 percent to $30.64 in the wake of second-quarter results that beat Wall Street estimates, bucking a trend of falling sales for apparel retailers.
Fast-food workers from McDonald‘s, Wendy’s Restaurants, Burger King Worldwide and others across the United States are expected to stage their largest strike to date on Thursday in an almost year-long campaign to raise wages in the service sector.