Stocks rose on Wednesday, the first day of the third quarter, as investors took reassuring manufacturing data from China, Europe and the United States as a fresh signal that the world's economy is on the road to recovery.

A day after Wall Street closed out its best quarter in a decade, investors plowed new money into stocks, boosting growth-sensitive sectors like energy, industrials, technology, materials and consumer discretionaries.

A weaker U.S. dollar also spurred share prices of multinational companies such as Coca-Cola , up nearly 3 percent to $49.33, as investors bet the U.S. currency's decline might boost overseas earnings.

You've got new money coming in for the new quarter, said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc, an investment advisory firm in Toledo, Ohio. With the weakness of the dollar, you have flight into multinationals, other dollar plays and commodities will be part of that, too.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 77.01 points, or 0.91 percent, to 8,524.01. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> climbed 6.55 points, or 0.71 percent, to 925.87. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 14.64 points, or 0.80 percent, to 1,849.68.

General Mills Inc , the maker of Cheerios cereal, also gave investors more reason to be optimistic about the economy after the food company forecast a stronger-than-expected annual profit, sending its stock up 3.4 percent to $57.93.

Kraft Foods Inc , another major U.S. food company, jumped 5.2 percent to $26.65.

Even so, volume was light because of the absence of most market players in a holiday-shortened week. U.S. financial markets will be closed on Friday for the U.S. Independence Day holiday.

In the latest readings on the global economy, surveys from Europe showed manufacturing was shrinking less than initially thought and in China's case, growing modestly.

Other data on Wednesday showed the U.S. manufacturing sector shrank in June but at a slower pace than during the prior month. The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity edged up to 44.8 to in June from 42.8 in May.

Additionally, global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas data showed planned layoffs at U.S. firms fell to a 15-month low in June.

That news, coming a day before the release of the government's June non-farm payrolls report, eclipsed the ADP Employer Services payroll survey showing that private employers cut 473,000 jobs in June.

Prospects of a better world economy lifted commodity prices, boosting stocks in natural resource companies including miners, with Newmont Mining Corp up 3.4 percent at $42.27.

Shares of Chevron Corp rose 0.6 percent to $66.62, while Exxon Mobil added nearly 1 percent to $70.54. Both stocks were off their best levels, however, after crude oil futures reversed an initial climb that sent them above $71 a barrel earlier on Wednesday.

U.S. front-month crude slipped $1.11, or 1.6 percent, at $68.78 a barrel, after rising as high as $71.85 earlier.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)