S&P 500 climbs, closing out its 4th straight quarterly gain

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Wall Street closed out March with a mostly higher finish for U.S. stock indexes and the market's fourth straight quarterly gain.
The S&P 500 rose 0.4% Wednesday, bringing its gain for the first three months of the year to 5.8%, despite a loss for January. The gain for the benchmark index, which tracks large U.S. companies, was eclipsed by the 12.4% jump in a popular index that tracks small-company stocks.

Technology stocks powered much of S&P 500's latest gains, even though more stocks in the index fell than rose. Solid gains by Apple, Microsoft and Nvidia, and companies that rely on consumer spending, outweighed a pullback in financial, energy and materials stocks.

After the stock market closed, President Joe Biden started a speech in which he'll discuss his plan to spend $2 trillion on strengthening the nation's infrastructure, and how to pay for it.

The S&P 500 rose 14.34 points to 3,972.89. It was the index's first gain since it set a record high at the end of last week. A late-afternoon fade pulled the Dow Jones Industrial Average 85.41 points lower, or a drop of 0.3%, to 32,981.55. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite climbed 201.48 points, or 1.5%, to 13,246.87.

Stocks of smaller companies once again posted a strong showing. The stocks have outpaced the broader market on rising expectations for the economy. The Russell 2000 index rose 24.72 points, or 1.1%, to 2,220.52. It ended the quarter with a 12.4% gain, more than double that of the big stocks in the S&P 500.

Tech stocks and companies expected to deliver big growth in the future were big winners. Apple climbed 1.9%, and Tesla rose 5.1%. It's a reprieve for the group, which led the market earlier in…
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