NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
The capture of a key al Qaeda member and some progress in the conflict with Iraq buoyed stocks early Monday, ahead of a closely watched manufacturing survey.
Around 9:35 a.m. ET, the Nasdaq composite (up 9.04 to 1346.56, Charts), Dow Jones industrial average (up 63.71 to 7954.79, Charts) and the Standard & Poor's 500 (up 6.85 to 848.00, Charts) index all registered moderate gains.
Investors cheered the capture in Pakistan of al Qaeda member Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, seen as the key planner of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against. Intelligence officials are putting "all appropriate pressure" on Mohammed to reveal any plots for future attacks, officials said.
In other world news, Iraqi officials said that more of the 100 Al Samoud 2 missiles were being destroyed, in compliance with the United Nations resolution; 10 missiles have already been destroyed. However, the country's officials have said that they will stop the process if the United States decides to go to war anyway.
Fear about a potential war with Iraq and the subsequent disruption of global oil prices and its impact on the economy has been a drag on stocks for most of 2003. Stocks ended the first two months of the year lower.
But a resolution of the conflict with Iraq could provide at least a short-term boost to equity prices, analysts have long speculated.
Still, any rally could be subject to the impact of the February Institute of Supply Management's purchasing index, due out at 10 a.m. ET. The key manufacturing survey is expected to see a decline to 52 from 53.9 in January.
European markets gained at midday, while Asian markets finished higher, with Tokyo seeing its best rally in three weeks.
Treasury prices fell, sending the 10-year note yield up to 3.72 percent from 3.70 percent late Friday. The dollar weakened against the yen and euro.
Brent oil futures dropped 37 cents to $31.45 a barrel in London. Gold was lower.