Updated from 4:32 p.m. EDTA late rally lifted stocks to a positive close -- after an indecisive day -- as an improved tone from the Federal Reserve helped offset a spate of mixed earnings and economic data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 109.44 points, or 1.4%, to 8029.62, while the S&P 500 rose 10.56 points, or 1.3%, to 852.06. The Nasdaq gained 1.08 points, or 0.07%, to 1626.80. Financials were the weakest performers on the Dow early. But American Express ( AXP) and JP Morgan Chase ( JPM) finished the day as two of the strongest, adding 11.9% and 6.1%, respectively, a day before JP Morgan's earnings. The KBW Bank Index also reversed to gain 5.1%. Perhaps offering a bit of hope, the Fed said in its beige book, which provides details about conditions in its 12 districts, that overall economic activity contracted further or remained weak since its last survey, but that five of the regions noted a moderation in the pace of decline. Several districts said activity in some sectors was stabilizing, albeit at low levels. Stocks didn't move a great deal immediately, though they turned higher late.
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