NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The Dow and S&P 500 ended at record highs on Thursday, with the S&P 500 rising above 1,700 after strong data on factory growth and as central banks said they would keep monetary stimulus in place.
Stocks were broadly higher, with all 10 S&P 500 sectors in the black, though growth-sensitive financials, industrials and consumer discretionary shares registered the biggest gains. The Dow transportation average rose 3.2 per cent, also closing at a new high.
Google shares, up 1.9 per cent at $904.22, and Apple , up 0.9 per cent at $456.67, were among companies giving the S&P 500 its biggest boost, along with financials. JPMorgan Chase shares gained 1.5 per cent to $56.54 while Bank of America was up 2.4 per cent at $14.95.
Data on weekly United States (US) initial jobless claims and national manufacturing came in better than expected. The Institute for Supply Management index of national factory activity for July rose to its highest level since June 2011.
"The talk we've been hearing that the second half is going to be better than the first. We saw some follow-through on that.
The ISM showing expansion in a lot of different areas is one of the main reasons why Wall Street (was) rallying today," said Mr Brian Amidei, managing director at HighTower Advisors in Palm Desert, California.
Global central banks remained accommodative on Thursday, with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi reiterating the ECB's rates will remain at their present level or lower for an "extended period."
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve, in its latest policy statement, gave no hint that a reduction in the pace of its bond-buying program was imminent, as the economy continues to recover but is still in need of support.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 128.48 points, or 0.83 per cent, at 15,628.02, a record close. It also hit a new intraday high of 15,650.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 21.14 points, or 1.25 per cent, at 1,706.87, also a record. The benchmark S&P surpassed 1,700 early in the session after failing to break above that level on Wednesday.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 49.37 points, or 1.36 per cent, at 3,675.74. The index hit a fresh 13-year high.
The drop in initial claims, coupled with Wednesday's better-than-expected ADP employment report, bodes well for July payrolls data on Friday.
Yelp Inc surged 23.2 per cent to $51.50 after the consumer reviews website posted a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss and forecast third-quarter revenue above analysts' expectations.
Pioneer Natural Resources was the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer after reporting second-quarter results. The company's shares jumped 12.5 per cent to $174.15, after hitting an all-time high of $180.99 earlier in the session.
On the downside, Exxon Mobil Corp dipped 1.1 per cent to $92.73, the biggest drag on the Dow and the S&P 500, after reporting a sharp drop in quarterly profit on lower oil and gas output production and weaker earnings from its refining business.
After the bell, shares of LinkedIn rose 6.3 per cent to $226.51 after it reported a big jump in quarterly revenue.
Volume was roughly 6.85 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, above the average daily closing volume of about 6.4 billion this year.
Advancers beat decliners on the NYSE by about 1.6 to 1 and on the Nasdaq by about 2.6 to 1.