NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average topped 17,000 for the first time Thursday, another in a string of records for the index that has lifted portfolios in a five-year bull market for stocks.
The gain pushed the 118-year-old Dow, the oldest gauge for tracking stock prices, past its first 1,000-point milestone this year.
The record came after another day of good news for the economy: The government reported surprisingly robust job gains in June, underscoring a recent trend of stronger hiring and healthy manufacturing.
The Dow's rise this year has been built on tiny gains, barely noticeable day by day, a stark contrast to last year's bigger moves that drove the index up 27 percent. Thursday followed the recent script. The index rose from the start of trading, but ended the day just half of percentage point higher. Trading was also extremely light. The market closed early ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.
Investors also pushed the Standard & Poor's 500 index within striking range of its round-number milestone — just 15 points from 2,000.
"Right now the story is onward and upward," said Neil Massa, senior trader at John Hancock Asset Management.
On Thursday, the government reported that U.S. employers added 288,000 workers to their payrolls in June and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent. The U.S. economy is now creating around 231,000 jobs each month in 2014, compared to roughly 194,000 a month last year.
"It topped even some of the most optimistic of forecasts," Massa said.
The jobs report is the latest piece of data to show the economy continues to improve steadily. On Wednesday, payroll processor ADP said private businesses added 281,000 jobs in June, up from 179,000 in May. Also this week, the Institute for Supply Management said the U.S. manufacturing expanded for the 13th consecutive month.
Also helping stocks are solid corporate earnings and continued support from central banks. That has pushed prices higher despite a harsh U.S. winter and worries about fighting in Ukraine and Iraq.