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News Story
Updated: 03/01/2014 01:19:03AM

S&P 500 recovers in strong February

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Trader Edward Curran, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. U.S. stocks are opening higher, pushing the market further into record territory. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Edward Curran, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. U.S. stocks are opening higher, pushing the market further into record territory. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Edward Curran, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. U.S. stocks are opening higher, pushing the market further into record territory. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Edward Curran, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. U.S. stocks are opening higher, pushing the market further into record territory. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Trader Edward Curran, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. U.S. stocks are opening higher, pushing the market further into record territory. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. U.S. stocks are opening higher, pushing the market further into record territory. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. U.S. stocks are opening higher, pushing the market further into record territory. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. U.S. stocks are opening higher, pushing the market further into record territory. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. U.S. stocks are opening higher, pushing the market further into record territory. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

By KEN SWEET

AP Markets Writer

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NEW YORK (AP) — After two months of trading, the stock market is back where it started.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.3 percent in February, the biggest gain since October 2013, helped by strong corporate earnings and a Federal Reserve that seems to have Wall Street’s back at every turn. But the rise in February must be taken in the context that investors spent the month making up the ground they lost in January.

“February looked a lot like January, just moving in the opposite direction,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist with Brown Brothers Harriman Wealth Management.

Investors are also now staring at a stock market, while numbers-wise is basically where it was on Jan. 1, that is a lot more defensive than it was two months ago.

Utilities and health care stocks — two traditional “safe” places for investors because of their low volatility and higher-than- average dividends — are the biggest gainers so far this year. Utilities are up 5.7 percent in 2014 and health care is up 6.6 percent.

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 5.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,859.45. It was the second all-time closing high for the S&P 500 in a row. The S&P 500 is now up 0.6 percent for the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 49.06 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,321.76. The Nasdaq composite lost 10.81 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,308.12.


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