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* All 11 sectors positive after week-ago slump
* Italy dodging a ratings downgrade offers support
* Red Hat surges on $34 bln purchase by IBM
* GM, Ford up on report China mulls cutting car purchase tax
* Indexes up: Dow 1.03 pct, S&P 1.31 pct, Nasdaq 0.88 pct (Updates with morning trading)
By Lewis Krauskopf
Oct 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks gained on Monday, helped by relief over Italy maintaining its debt rating, as equities clawed back from a sharp sell off last week.
Financials led broad gains among sectors as the benchmark S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent.
Shares of software maker Red Hat Inc gave among the biggest boosts to the S&P 500, surging 45.3 percent after the company agreed to be bought by IBM Corp for $34 billion. IBM shares fell 1.9 percent.
Still, stocks had come off their session highs, as investors were wary of any rally given increased volatility over the past month, stemming from higher interest rates and worries about the economy and trade tensions. The S&P last week flirted with correction territory.
"They were so oversold, it invited a bounce," said Willie Delwiche, an investment strategist at Baird in Milwaukee. "The question is whether or not it can go anywhere.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 254.08 points, or 1.03 percent, to 24,942.39, the S&P 500 gained 34.9 points, or 1.31 percent, to 2,693.59 and the Nasdaq Composite added 63.18 points, or 0.88 percent, to 7,230.39.
Investors who are bullish about stocks point to strong corporate earnings and economic strength, although weak housing data has raised some concern about the economy.
Data on Monday showed U.S. consumer spending rose for a seventh straight month in September, but income recorded its smallest gain in more than a year amid moderate wage growth, suggesting the current pace of spending was unlikely to be sustained.
"Many investors are starting to take a step back from all the noise and are looking at the strong fundamentals of the U.S. economy right now," said Arian Vojdani, an investment strategist at MV Financial in Bethesda, Maryland.
Earlier, relief over Italy dodging a ratings downgrade helped global sentiment and overturned an earlier fall in U.S. stock futures. Shares of carmaker Ford Motor Co rose 5.1 percent, while General Motors Co gained 3.7 percent after Bloomberg reported China was planning to cut the tax levied on car purchases by half.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.26-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.62-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 3 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 20 new highs and 54 new lows. (Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru Editing by Susan Thomas)