NEW YORK — U.S. stocks advanced Thursday, lifting the S&P 500 index to within 2 points of its all-time closing high, as investors embraced the latest confirmation of an expanding economy.
“It does seem the economy is getting better, and certainly the residential housing market has helped,” said Martin Leclerc, chief investment officer at Barrack Yard Advisors.
“The market seems to want to go up with the power of a freight train. We humans can only be bummed out for so long,” Leclerc said of increasing bullish sentiment among investors.
Stretching gains into a 10th consecutive session, its longest streak in 16 years, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 83.86 points, or 0.6 percent, to 14,539.14, leaving it with another record close for a eighth consecutive session.
The S&P 500 index rose 8.71 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,563.23, leaving it less than 2 points shy of its record close set in October 2007.
“While the stock market appears somewhat extended short-term and ripe for a minor pullback, the positive economic data flow and dollar strength appear to be encouraging investors to put money to work in stocks,” said Dickson.
The Nasdaq composite index advanced 13.81 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,258.93.
Bolstering sentiment, the Labor Department reported initial applications for unemployment benefits declined by 10,000 to 332,000 last week.
“Jobless claims as a percent of the U.S. workforce have now fallen to a level last seen during the strong expansion phase of the prior two economic expansions,” noted Fred Dickson, chief investment strategist at Davidson Cos.
Separately, the Labor Department reported a 0.7 percent jump in producer prices in February, boosted by a rise in gasoline prices.
The price of oil climbed, with the crude futures contract for April delivery up 51 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $93.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Apple Inc. rose 1 percent after a BTIG Research analyst upgraded the consumer-technology company to buy from neutral.
E-Trade Financial Corp. shed 8.2 percent after Citadel LLC said it would sell its remaining equity stake.
Men’s Wearhouse Inc. leapt 19 percent as the clothing company said it had retained an investment bank to help it explore strategic options for its K&G store chain.
Distributed by MCT Information Services