Dow Maintains Winning Streak

The industrials set another record after a late-stage rally.
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Updated from 4:07 p.m. EDT

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

staged a late-afternoon rally Thursday to again close at a record high, as investors brushed past rising oil prices and embraced strong reports from major retailers.

After spending most of the session below the flatline, the Dow closed up 16.08 points, or 0.14%, at 11,866.69. The

S&P 500

tacked on 3 points, or 0.22%, to 1353.22. The

Nasdaq Composite

was higher by 15.39 points, or 0.67%, at 2306.34.

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

provided support for the Dow, adding 4.1% to $68.24.

Starbucks

(SBUX) - Get Report

helped to boost the Nasdaq, surging 7.6% for the day.

"The Dow has continued to move higher, reflecting the fact that investors are continuing to put funds into the market," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist with Spencer Clarke LLC. "Most investors probably expected the market to tread water, given the jump of oil prices today, so this is a bit of a surprise."

Crude was back on the rise Thursday after reports that OPEC will cut oil production by 1 million barrels a day as soon as possible. The world's biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, is lowering its production by 300,000 barrels a day from last month.

Oil futures ended higher by 62 cents, to $60.03 a barrel, off the session high of $60.97.

Trading volume and breadth were down slightly from Wednesday. About 2.73 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

. Advancers beat decliners by a 2-to-1 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq was roughly 1.95 billion shares, with winners beating losers 2 to 1.

On Wednesday, a broad-based rally led the major U.S. averages to impressive gains. After a slow open, the Dow surged 123.27 points, or 1.05%, to 11,850.61. The S&P jumped 16.11 points, or 1.21%, to 1350.22, and the Nasdaq soared 47.30 points, or 2.11%, to 2290.95.

Because it's the first Thursday of the month, the bulk of the nation's retail-chain operators reported their same-store sales. The results were mostly strong, with the exception of

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

. The world's largest retailer said same-store sales rose 1.3%, matching the estimate it had revised lower just a day ago. Wal-Mart closed down $1.14, or 2.3%, at $48.41.

Rival

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

posted a better-than-expected 6.7% same-store sales rise and said it expects to beat analysts' third-quarter earnings estimates.

Teen apparel retailer

Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get Report

closed nearly 5% higher after reporting a 10% gain in same-store sales for September, beating the average estimate of a 5.5% increase. Abercrombie gained $3.34 to $75.08.

Other chains with strong sales growth included

Limited

(LTD)

, which said September comp sales rose 12%, and

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

, which said last month's same-store revenue was up 8.7%. At

Nordstrom

(JWN) - Get Report

, comps climbed 13.4%.

Among the losers were

Sharper Image

(SHRP)

, where same-store sales slid 21%,

Pier 1

(PIR) - Get Report

, with a 10.1% drop in comparable sales.

The news was similar for

Gap

(GPS) - Get Report

, as comp sales declined 3% in September. Gap gave back 10 cents, or 0.5%, to $19.26.

Elsewhere, shares of Starbucks jumped after the company reported a 6% advance in comp sales for September, beating estimates. The coffee seller rose $2.73 on the day to finish at $38.69,

Meanwhile,

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

CEO Steve Jobs knew the company had improperly backdated some of its option grants, the company said after conducting an internal investigation. However, the probe found that Jobs wasn't aware of the potential accounting problems the issue would raise. Apple lost 55 cents, or 0.7%, to finish at $74.83.

Elsewhere in the tech space, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed criminal charges against Patricia Dunn, the former chair of

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

, and four others related to the company's secret program to access director phone records. Shares of H-P fell 18 cents, or 0.5%, to $37.84.

Corinthian Colleges

(COCO)

said it has received a delisting notification from the Nasdaq, which comes after the college operator failed to file a fiscal 2006 report with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

by the deadline. Corinthian missed the deadline because of a review of its stock-option grants. The stock tacked on 8 cents, or 0.7%, at $11.94.

The economic docket was light as a data-heavy week winds down. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell by 17,000 to 302,000 last week. The big number comes Friday, when the government releases its nonfarm payroll report for September.

Economists expect that U.S. employers added roughly 120,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate likely remained at 4.7%.

Overseas, European indices finished higher. London's FTSE 100 was adding 0.6% to 6005, and Germany's Xetra DAX was up 0.5% at 6075. Stocks surged in Asia, as Japan's Nikkei finished 2.3% higher at 16,449. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.6% to 17,907.