NEW YORK (
) -- The
finished higher for the eighth consecutive session, but the other major indices were hardly changed Thursday, as investors grappled with a raft of data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 45.5 points, or 0.4%, to close at 10,779. The
lost less than a point, or 0.03%, to close at 1166, and the
lifted by 2 points, or 0.09%, to finish at 2391.
Investors seemed to take a step back after U.S. indices hit new yearly highs in the previous session, spurred by the
decision Wednesday to keep interest rates low for an extended period.
"Anytime you have the prospect of low rates for a long time, that's a good signal that sales will be strong, which will in turn help profits," said Mike Schenk, a senior economist at Credit Union National Association. "It's conceivable that [Wednesday's] market overemphasized the value of what the Fed did, but we think that overall, it's good news for the economy."
Despite sluggish trading, the day was packed with news. President Obama approved a
that cleared the Senate with some bipartisan support on Wednesday. The package offers roughly $18 billion in tax breaks aimed at improving employment opportunities.
UBS analyst Timna Tanners sees the legislation as positive for certain materials companies because it extends funding on an expired highway-spending program that kept states from undertaking large-scale road projects.
"We foresee government spending supporting buy-rated
Martin Marietta Materials
, and a 2010 highway spending program extension removes near-term uncertainty," Tanners said.
The debate over
health care reform
raged on as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the reform bill would save $1 trillion.
President Obama delayed an upcoming trip to Indonesia and Australia to focus on passing health care reform legislation.
Markets were also mulling comments from
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou
, who said the country's planned deficit cuts wouldn't be possible without financial aid.
Read on for details on the day's economic figures.