A jump in U.S. auto sales and other good news on the economy helped drive the stock market higher Wednesday.

General Motors and other carmakers surged after posting strong sales in August, giving the industry its best month in six years.

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"Car sales were really impressive," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York. They're important for what they suggest about the larger economy: solid consumer spending and increased manufacturing. "It means the economy is holding up," Cardillo said.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose .81 percent to 1,653.08. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 96.91 points to 14,930.87, and the Nasdaq composite rose 1.01 percent to 3,649.04.

Jim Russell, an equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Cincinnati, said recent economic reports have drawn a brighter picture of the global economy, even amid concerns over a U.S. strike on Syria.

The Nasdaq Stock Market ran into technical problems for the second time in two weeks. The exchange reported that its system for disseminating prices had a brief outage, from 11:35 a.m. to 11:41 a.m., but said trading was not affected.