U.S. stocks racked up strong gains on Wednesday, sparked by results from bellwether Intel Corp that lifted hopes for a rebound in technology spending and improved corporate profitability.

Optimism was further reinforced by manufacturing data that suggested the recession is abating, as well as minutes from the Federal Reserve's most recent policy-setting meeting that showed officials judged that the economic contraction was slowing.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 256.72 points, or 3.07 percent, to end unofficially at 8,616.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 26.84 points, or 2.96 percent, to finish unofficially at 932.68. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> jumped 63.17 points, or 3.51 percent, to close unofficially at 1,862.90.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Jan Paschal)