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Stocks rise, led by technology and health care

Specialist Anthony Rinaldi works at his post on

Specialist Anthony Rinaldi works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Feb. 22. Credit: AP/Richard Drew

Health care and technology companies powered stocks broadly higher on Wall Street Wednesday, giving the market its third straight gain.

Boeing briefly dipped, but finished slightly higher, after the U.S. said it was joining other countries in grounding the company's 737 Max 8 airplane following a fatal crash of an Ethiopian airliner over the weekend.

The S&P 500 has now clawed back all its losses from last week, when the benchmark index posted its worst week since December.

The market has rebounded this week even though the costly trade dispute between the U.S. and China has yet to be resolved and the outlook for corporate earnings growth has dimmed this year.

A batch of economic reports helped drive the latest rally, giving investors more reason to have an upbeat view of the economy. Oil prices rose after new government data showed lower-than expected stockpiles.

"I'm still scratching my head to find out what kind of an upside catalyst we've actually gotten, other than just maybe an aggregate of relatively positive economic reports that individually aren't enough to move the market," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. "Frankly, this rally has been much stronger than even that would explain, so I'm a bit puzzled by it."

The S&P 500 gained 0.7 percent, to 2,810.92. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 148.23 points, or 0.6 percent, to 25,702.89. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.7 percent, to 7,643.41.

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