NEW YORK, FEB. 13 -- A late burst of buying today ignited a snap recovery on Wall Street that sent blue-chip stocks up more than 34 points.

"We got hit with a bunch of {computer-trading} programs going into the finish," said Robert Walberg, an analyst at MMS International. "People waiting for a correction were forced to come in."

For most of the day, though, the market continued Tuesday's attempt to consolidate the gains of the past three weeks -- a roughly 400-point explosion in the Dow Jones industrial average.

The Dow closed 34.41 points higher at 2909.16. Earlier in the day, it was down as much as 12 points.

While the Dow remains 90 points below its record high of 2999.75 set July 17, two broader market indicators -- the Standard & Poor's 500 index and the New York Stock Exchange composite index -- rose to new records today.

NYSE volume slowed to a still heavy 210 million shares. Gaining stocks outpaced those losing by a ratio of about 2 to 1.

"In my opinion, I see almost no sign of a short-term top," said Alfred Goldman, director of technical research at A.G. Edwards. "I see too much momentum."

The prospect of more U.S. interest rate cuts will fuel further stock price gains, he said. "The Federal Reserve has made it clear that they're going to do whatever it takes to turn the economy around," Goldman said.

Some observers said small investors have acquired a new passion for equities over the past three weeks, and that suggests that overall consumer sentiment may be changing as well.

"If people are spending their money in a stock-market buying stampede, they're also likely to be giving second thoughts to spending on other things," said Yale Hirsch, who produces the Smart Money newsletter. "The stock market is a barometer. ... It has a clear historical tendency to turn up ahead of the economy."

Fuel prices fell in lackluster trading, pulled down by traders pocketing profits made on recent gains in heating oil. Heating oil contracts fell 3.69 cents to 67.11 cents a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude oil closed 37 cents lower at $22.56 a barrel.

The dollar rose, boosted by the specter of central bank intervention. It was the first day in eight trading sessions that central banks have not come to the dollar's rescue. Still, the mere threat of central bank buying gave support, traders said. The dollar ended at 1.4630 German marks, up from 1.4545 at Tuesday's close.

The price of the Treasury's bellwether 30-year bond, unchanged Tuesday, rose 1/16 point, or about 62 cents per $1,000 in face value.

Among individual stocks, Boeing was most actively traded again, falling 1 1/8 to 47 1/8 on more than 5.7 million shares. British Airways said on Tuesday it would delay the introduction of Boeing 767 jetliners into its fleet.

Shares of United Technologies dropped 1 3/4 to 47 after Morgan Stanley downgraded its rating.

Cummins Engine lost 2 1/4 to 41 7/8 after the company paid its regular quarterly dividend but said a worsening economy would cause it to review future payouts.

The S&P 500 closed up 3.52 at 369.02, the NYSE composite was up 1.75 at 201.18, the American Stock Exchange index rose 2.29 at 342.94 and the Nasdaq composite added 3.99 to 447.97.