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FILE - In this Tuesday, July 7, 2020 file photo, pedestrians wearing protective masks during the coronavirus pandemic pass by the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Wall Street is starting August with more gains, and U.S. stocks are climbing in early Monday, Aug. 3, 2020 trading following encouraging reports from around the world on the economy. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks started August with more gains, and a worldwide rally on Monday sent Wall Street back to where it was just a couple days after it set its record earlier this year.

The S&P 500 tacked 0.7% more onto its four-month winning streak, and Big Tech once again led the way. The index rose 23.49 points to 3,294.61 to get within 3% of its record for the first time since February.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 236.08 points, or 0.9%, to 26,664.40. The gains for tech stocks, particularly Microsoft and Apple, pushed the Nasdaq composite up 157.52, or 1.5%, to 10,902.80, another record.

Helping to launch markets higher were reports showing manufacturing activity strengthened across Europe in July by more than economists expected. The gains built higher after a separate report showed U.S. manufacturing growth accelerated last month at a faster pace than economists expected.

The data added to evidence that the global economy halted its freefall from earlier this year, at least temporarily. Earlier on Monday, a private survey showed China's manufacturing activity also grew at a faster rate in July than expected.

Such budding improvements have helped the S&P 500 nearly erase its pandemic-caused plunge, which had reached nearly 34% at one point. So have massive amounts of aid for the economy from the Federal Reserve.

Still, "there is clear confusion among investors," said Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide. Even though the stock market is indicating a steady recovery, he said big moves in the foreign-currency and gold markets are "suggesting greater disruption."

In Washington, meanwhile, slow, grinding negotiations on another huge relief effort for the U.S. economy are ongoing. Both the Trump administration negotiating team and top Capitol Hill Democrats reported progress over the weekend, though differences remain.

The discussions have taken on more urgency because $600 in weekly benefits for laid-off workers from the federal government have expired, just as the number of layoffs ticks up across the country amid a resurgence of coronavirus counts and business restrictions.

The continued spread of the coronavirus is raising worries that the economy could backslide again and snuff out the budding improvements it's shown. The shakeout from the pandemic took down two more big retailers over the weekend, with Lord & Taylor and the owner of Men's Wearhouse both filing for bankruptcy protection on Sunday.

Through the pandemic, though, Big Tech has remained almost immune to such concerns on expectations that it can continue to grow.

Microsoft jumped 5.6% Monday after it confirmed that it's in talks to buy the U.S. arm of TikTok, a Chinese-owned video app that is very popular but has also drawn the White House's scrutiny.

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