Stocks closed higher on Wall Street for the second straight day Wednesday, extending Tuesday's strong gains as investors bet an interest rate cut could be ahead.

Technology, industrial and health care companies accounted for much of the broad gains, which were tempered by a slide in energy stocks following a 3.4% plunge in the price of U.S. crude oil.

Traders shrugged off a report showing private U.S. companies added the fewest jobs in nine years last month. The bleak jobs snapshot may have been welcomed by investors hoping that it could help persuade the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

"It could help underpin a Fed rate cut," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "The market has been in essence calling for a rate cut for a number of months as the economic data have waned and tariff issues have intensified."

The S&P 500 index gained 22.8 points, or 0.8%, to 2,826.15. The benchmark index's 2.1% gain Tuesday was its best performance since January.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 207.39 points, or 0.8%, to 25,539.57. The Nasdaq composite rose 48.36 points, or 0.6%, to 7,575.48. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies slipped 1.77 points, or 0.1%, to 1,506.79.

Major stock indexes in Europe closed broadly higher.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday that the central bank was "closely monitoring" developments in the United States' multiple trade conflicts and would "act as appropriate" to sustain the nation's economic expansion.

Investors now expect the central bank to cut rates at least once and possibly twice before year's end, in part because of fallout from the trade war.

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