Stocks racked up more gains Friday as Wall Street closed out its best month since November 2020, a welcome breather for investors after a punishing year for the market.

The S&P 500 index, a benchmark for many stock funds, rose 1.4% and finished 9.1% higher for July. A rebound in technology stocks, big retailers and other companies that rely on direct consumer spending helped power the index's broad gains this month. The index is still down 13.3% for the year.

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