Strong earnings from technology companies including Intel Corp. sent stocks sharply higher Wednesday. The Nasdaq composite index had its biggest one-day jump in six months, and the Dow Jones industrial average closed at its highest level in nearly three years.

Intel rose 7.8 percent, the most of the 30 companies in the Dow average, after the chip maker reported that its income rose 29 percent in the first quarter because of rising demand for personal computers. The results easily beat analysts' expectations and allayed concerns that surging sales of tablet computers would hurt Intel's results.

Industrial conglomerate United Technologies Corp. rose 4 percent. The company's income jumped 17 percent, also beating Wall Street expectations. The company raised its forecast for 2011 profit.

The Dow jumped 186.79 points, or 1.52 percent, to close at 12,453.54. That's the highest close since June 5, 2008. The Nasdaq rose 57.54, or 2.10 percent, to 2,802.51. The tech-heavy index hadn't jumped that much since Oct. 5. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 17.74, or 1.35 percent, to 1,330.36.

The tech rally could stretch into Thursday with help from earnings results Apple Inc. reported after the market closed. The company's results were well ahead of analysts' estimates on sales and profits. Apple rose 2.5 percent in after-market trading.

The stronger earnings reports came after mainly disappointing results released last week, especially from Google Inc. and Alcoa Inc.

"The contrast from last week is driving stocks," said Clark Yingst, chief market analyst at investment bank Joseph Gunnar.

Nearly five shares rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. -- AP

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