By MATTHEW CRAFT
NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The Dow Jones industrial average has reached another milestone, recording its longest winning streak since 1996.
The index rose for the tenth straight day Thursday, gaining 83.86 points to close at 14,539.14. That's an increase of 0.6 percent.
The last time the Dow knocked out 10 straight days of gains was November 1996. Back then, Internet companies were still lining up to go public and President Bill Clinton had just won another term in the White House.
"It's just a good run," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at the brokerage BTIG. "And it speaks to optimism about the future."
Encouraging news on jobs gave the market an early lift. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed within two points of its all-time high reached in October 2007.
The S&P 500 index gained 8.71 points to 1,563.23, a gain of 0.6 percent.
Signs that the economic recovery is gaining strength have propelled the market higher since the beginning of March.
Last month, the unemployment rate dipped to 7.7 percent, the lowest level since December 2008. Adding to evidence that the job market is improving, fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week.
Record corporate profits and reassurances from Federal Reserve officials that they plan to keep interests rates at historically low levels have also helped push stocks higher. U.S. retail spending increased in February at the fastest pace in five months. That came despite higher payroll taxes kicking in at the beginning of the year.
"We've been getting some really good economic statistics: jobless claims today and retail sales yesterday," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist for ING U.S. Investment Management. "And that's positive."
The gains were broad on Thursday, though slight. All 10 industrial groups in the S&P 500 rose, led by energy companies. The Nasdaq composite rose 13.81, or 0.4 percent, to 3,258.93.