The Dow, buoyed by some positive corporate earnings reports, jumped 97.83 points to close at 10,759.43. That exceeded this year's previous highest closing level of 10,737.70 set on Feb. 11 and marked the Dow's highest close in about 3-1/2 years.
"The company news that we've seen over the past few days has been, on balance, positive, and that's giving investors the courage to buy," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer for First Albany Corp., in a report by Associated Press. "There's definitely some window dressing going on as well, where you have portfolio managers making sure they have good performing stocks in their portfolios before year's end. But for the most part, investors seem to be in a holiday mood."
Stocks have been for the most part rising steadily since the November elections, setting the stage for a December "Santa Claus rally" in what is normally a good month for stocks. Historically, December has been one of the best months for the blue-chip indexes, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac.
The Dow has risen nearly 1,000 points since late October.
Times Staff Writer Josh Friedman and Times wire services contributed to this report.