US stocks end higher despite dismal economic data

Wall Street withstood another stream of bad economic readings Wednesday, closing sharply higher as investors shuttled between pessimism about the recession and hopes that the nation might start seeing relief soon. The major indexes saw big swings throughout the day, but all closed up more than 2 percent, giving the market its second straight advance. The day's downbeat news included a drop in productivity, a pullback in the services sector and the US Federal Reserve's finding of worsening economic conditions across the US investors were initially disheartened by each piece of news but soon shook off their disappointment - until the next dismal report was issued. Analysts largely believe that much of the bad news is already priced into the market, and they again said stocks remain in a bottoming process after the huge declines of the past two months. "The market is beginning to look forward, and a lot of the selling pressure appears to be abating," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at New York-based brokerage house Avalon Partners. "Perhaps some of the hedge funds are becoming less aggressive in selling, and investors are starting to look at the future."