S&P Reaches Record

The S&P 500 set a new all-time closing high on Wednesday, eclipsing its previous record of 1527.46 set on March 24, 2000, the start of the technology downturn that cut the index in half over the next 2 1/2 years.

The Nasdaq has recovered a little more than half of its nearly 80% decline from 2000-2002, while the Dow eclipsed its 2000 peak last year.

U.S. stocks started the day lower on a sell-off in China that spread overseas, but then recovered to post strong gains after Federal Reserve meeting minutes renewed hopes of interest rate cuts.

Mergers once again played a role, with CDW the latest to go private in the private equity buyout binge.

Dell edged higher ahead of its earnings report due out late Thursday.

EMC gained 3% after Baird analysts raised their price target from $17 to $20 on strength in VMware sales, while Apple continued its record run.

Chip stocks were a notable laggard, with Intel and Applied Materials finishing on the downside.

Qualcomm lost 3% on concern about its legal battle with Broadcom , while Nokia was up on predictions of strong margins.

Versant rose on its results, while Applied Signal and Verifone lost ground on their earnings.

The Nasdaq rose 20 to 2592, the S&P 500 gained 12 to 1530, and the Dow rose 111 to 13,633. Volume rose to 2.98 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.08 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancing issues led by a 22-10 margin on the NYSE, and 17-13 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 78% on the NYSE, and 69% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 190-38 on the NYSE, and 151-61 on the Nasdaq.

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