US STOCKS-Wall St edges higher after Philly Fed data
* Philly Fed far stronger than expected in March
* Financial stocks among the day's biggest gainers
* Yellen raises uncertainty about timing of rate hike
* Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all rise 0.4 pct (Updates with housing and Philly Fed data)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, boosted by a read on factory activity that was much stronger than expected, although investors continued to grapple with the prospect of an earlier-than-expected rate hike.
Wall Street opened lower but reversed course after the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index rose far more than expected in March, rebounding after a contraction in February. In another positive report, jobless claims rose less than expected in the latest week.
The data "shows that fundamentals are getting stronger every day, and that strength is getting firmer," said Frank Davis, director of sales and trading at LEK Securities in New York.
Financial shares, which are tied to the pace of economic growth, were among the biggest gainers on Thursday, with the S&P financial group up 1.1 percent. JPMorgan Chase & Co gained 2.2 percent to $59.58 while Citigroup Inc added 1.9 percent to $49.87. Continuación...