Wall Street delivered another set of milestones Thursday as a wave of buying sent U.S. stocks solidly higher, driving the Dow Jones Industrial Average above the all-time high it closed at in January.

The S&P 500, the benchmark for many index funds, also hit a new high, eclipsing the peak it reached last month.

Trader Tommy Kalikas works the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday during a day of milestones.

Technology stocks, banks and health care companies accounted for much of the broad rally. Energy companies declined along with crude oil prices.

A weaker dollar, which helps U.S. exporters, and a mix of mostly encouraging economic reports helped put investors in a buying mood, a turnaround from earlier in the week when the U.S. and China each announced a new round of tariffs on each other’s goods, triggering a sell-off.

“Some of the economic data that came out today continued to show strength,” said Lindsey Bell, an investment strategist with CFRA. “Given the strength in the economy, backed by the stimulus from tax reform as well as just fiscal stimulus in general, that should be able to offset some of the impact that we’re going to get from tariffs as we go into the end of the year.”

The S&P 500 index rose 22.80 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,930.75. The Dow gained 251.22 points, or 1 percent, to 26,656.98. The Nasdaq composite climbed 78.19 points, or 1 percent, to 8,028.23. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 17.25 points, or 1 percent, to 1,720.18.


The road to the latest records was hardly smooth. Shortly after the Dow’s all-time high in January, the market plunged in February and again in March, at one point bringing the index down 11.6 percent from its January peak. Investors worried about rising interest rates and the potential impact of the U.S.-China trade dispute on the big industrial companies that are part of the Dow.

With the Federal Reserve having clearly signaled its policy – gradual rate increases, including two more this year – and the U.S. economy gaining strength, the market has recently taken the trade tremors in stride and pushed the Dow and S&P 500 to new highs.

The Dow is now up 7.8 percent for the year, while the S&P 500 is up 9.6 percent. The gains have helped boost investors’ stock holdings.

The Federal Reserve said Thursday that the value of Americans’ stock and mutual fund portfolios rose $800 billion last quarter, helping to boost U.S. household wealth to a record $106.9 billion in the April-June quarter. At the same time, stock market wealth has been flowing disproportionately – and increasingly – to the most affluent households. The richest one-tenth of Americans own about 84 percent of the value of stocks.

The Dow and S&P 500 were on course to set record highs from the get-go Thursday as investors pored through a batch of economic data.

The Labor Department’s weekly tally of applications for unemployment aid was lower than expected, with claims slipping last week to 201,000. That’s the lowest level since November 1969.

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