NEW YORK — Stocks roared back to record highs on Thursday, driven by good news on the economy.
The Standard & Poor's 500, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Russell 2000 index set all-time highs. The S&P broke through 1,700 points for the first time. The Nasdaq hit its highest level since September 2000.
The gains were driven by a steady flow of encouraging reports on the global economy.
Overnight, a positive read on China's manufacturing helped shore up Asian markets. An hour before U.S. trading started, the government reported that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits last week fell sharply. At midmorning, a trade group said U.S. factories revved up production last month. And while corporate earnings news after the market closed Wednesday and throughout Thursday brought both winners and losers, investors were able to find enough reports they liked, including those from CBS, MetLife and Yelp.
Overall, analysts said, the news was good but not overwhelmingly so. Enough to suggest that the economy is improving, but not enough to prompt the Federal Reserve to withdraw its economic stimulus programs.
Earnings results covered a wide range. Boston Beer, which makes Samuel Adams, and home shopping network operator HSN rose after beating analysts' estimates for earnings and revenue. Kellogg, health insurer Cigna and cosmetics maker Avon were down after beating earnings predictions but missing on revenue.
It's becoming a familiar template this year. Stock indexes have been setting record highs since April even while the underlying economy is often described as improving, but hardly going gangbusters.