NEW YORK -- The Dow Jones industrial average has closed above 16,000 for the first time, marking yet another milestone for a stock rally that has surprised even some of the most bullish on Wall Street.
The Dow added 109.17 points, or 0.7%, to close at 16,009.99 on Thursday. Investors were heartened by a better-than-expected drop in first-time jobless claims and a Senate panel's vote advancing Janet Yellen's nomination to be the next head of the Federal Reserve.
The Dow, an index of 30 blue-chip companies and the world's best-known stock-market barometer, has steadily risen this year amid moderate though disappointing economic growth and a torrent of economic stimulus from the Fed. The Dow is now up 22% this year.
The 16,000-point milestone comes five years after the 2008 financial crisis drove many investors from equities.
“People are probably under-invested overall in the stock market, which is one of the reasons it is continuing to go higher," said J.J. Kinahan, chief strategist at the retail brokerage TD Ameritrade in Chicago.
By buying $85 billion a month in bonds, the Fed has helped lift stocks and other riskier assets. The purchases are part of the central bank's strategy to stimulate borrowing and economic growth by keeping interest rates low. Yellen is widely expected to favor keeping the bond-buying program intact into early next year.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index added 14.49 points, or 0.8%, to close at 1,795.86, just shy of 1,800-point level. The S&P; 500 is up nearly 26% for the year.
The technology-focused Nasdaq composite index added 47.88 points, or 1.2%, to 3,969.15. The Nasdaq has ballooned 31% this year.