Technology stocks rose more than 2 percent Wednesday following encouraging earnings, while a slew of economic reports fueled the notion the economy was showing stronger signs of a turnaround and boosted the broader market.
The major indexes gained 1.5 percent following the market's biggest two-day gain since the beginning of June. The tech-laden Nasdaq led the charge, powered higher by some of its biggest names.
Readings on consumer prices, New York manufacturing, industrial production and mortgage applications each provided hope for the economy. While none was particularly buoyant, each beat analyst expectations.
Coupled with a fairly strong start to earnings season, investors continued a rally that began Monday, focusing Wednesday on technology leaders. Bank stocks led Monday's rally, while housing and commodities brought a modest gain to the markets on Tuesday.
Intel beat expectations with its after-the-bell earnings report late Tuesday, and issued guidance that was well above consensus as well. Intel's main rival, Advance Micro Devices , also surged.
On the down side of earnings Yum Brands, the parent of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, also reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings reports but shares fell when the company lowered its outlook.
The biggest event of the day may well be the minutes of the most recent FOMC meeting, which will be out at 2 pm New York time. Once again, investors will be looking not only for positive comments about an economic recovery, but also further insight into any possible exit strategies from the Fed's expanded balance sheet, zero interest rates, and other extraordinary measures designed to deal with the economic crisis.