NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Benchmark indices had an anticlimactic day after a record-breaking run over Wednesday's session. Markets slowed down to digest payrolls and factory orders data and watched closely for hints from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on monetary policy.
After flirting with a 17,000-level a day earlier, the Dow Jones Industrial Average nudged 0.12% higher to 16,976.24, while the S&P 500 added 0.07% to 1,974.61 and the Nasdaq slipped 0.02% to 4,457.73.
But whether it makes it to 17,000 or not, Wells Fargo analyst Scott L. Wren reminds investors it's just a number. In a note, Wren wrote, "This is not a technical trading level that looks important on the price charts. It is more of a psychological level."
What's important, then, is the underlying fundamentals of the market which sparked that kind of rally. This week, though shortened, has been a bounty of strong data including stronger-than-expected housing data, Chinese manufacturing recording expansion for the first time this year and payrolls climbing at a steeper rate than forecast.
This snapshot of an economy in recovery lends to high hopes the market is on the cusp of even better earnings for the remainder of 2014.
"Corporate earnings are going to be the highest level ever this year, so the S&P should be the highest level ever this year. I don't think it's going to be a 30% year but a 9% to 10% year," Karyn Cavanaugh, senior market strategist at Voya Investment Management, told TheStreet. "If corporations continue to do better, then the market is going to grind higher and we've seen that this year."