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A strong February wipes out S&P 500’s January loss

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After two months, the market is back where it started. But February’s rise must be taken in the context that investors made up for the ground they lost in January. Utilities and health care stocks — two traditional ‘‘safe’’ places for investors — are the biggest gainers so far this year. February’s rise came in spite of several economic reports that showed the economy slowed in the previous month. Investors blamed the weather, and rightly so. Many companies, particularly retailers, said winter storms of the past two months dramatically affected their business. But spring will come, at some point, and all that pent-up demand will help the economy recover some of the ground lost.

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