US STOCKS-Wall St rebounds after data; financials climb
* Philly Fed index far stronger than expected in March
* Financial stocks among the day's biggest gainers
* Investors reassess Yellen's comments
* Dow up 0.7 pct; S&P 500 up 0.6 pct; Nasdaq up 0.3 pct (Updates to close, changes byline)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, after a batch of economic data pointed to an improving economy and investors reassessed Fed Chair Janet Yellen's comments that had fueled speculation of an earlier-than-expected rate hike by the central bank.
After several weeks of soft economic data attributed by many investors to harsh winter weather conditions, labor market data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing for jobless benefits hovered near three-month lows last week. A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed that factory activity in the Mid-Atlantic region rebounded in March, suggesting economic momentum may be on the upswing.
"I didn't see anything that had me jumping for joy, but it seems more like the smoldering, slowly improving economy," said Stephen Massocca, managing director of Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco.
Financial shares, which are tied to the pace of economic growth, were among Thursday's biggest gainers, with the S&P financial sector index up 1.7 percent. After the close, the Federal Reserve said 29 out of 30 major banks met the minimum hurdle in its annual health check. Continuación...