The Dow pushed further into record territory Thursday, having sur-passed its previous all-time high two days ago. The catalyst was the latest evidence that hiring is picking up.
Stocks started higher after the US Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell by 7,000 last week, driving the four-week average to its lowest in five years.
The drop is a positive sign ahead of today's employment report.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 33.25 points to 14,329.49. The Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500 gained almost three points to 1,544.26. Both indexes logged their fifth straight daily advance.
The Dow barrelled through a record high Tuesday and has since added to its gains. The S&P 500 is also closing in on its own record high of 1,565, which was also reached on October 9, 2007, the same day of the Dow's previous peak.
Investors have been buying stocks on optimism that employers are slowly starting to hire again and that the housing market is recovering. Growing company earnings are also encouraging investors to get into the market.
"If you have a multi-year time horizon, equities are an attractive asset, but don't be surprised to see some volatility, especially after the big run we've had," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial Group.
The stock market's rally this year has been helped in no small part by continuing economic stimulus from the US Federal Reserve.
The US central bank began buying bonds in January 2009 and is still purchasing US$85 billion each month in Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. That has kept interest rates near historic lows, reducing borrowing costs and encouraging investors to move money out of conservative investments like bonds and into stocks.
The Nasdaq composite advanced 9.7 points to 3,232.09.