The S&P 500 extended gains to a fourth day on Thursday, putting it on the cusp of a new five-year high if Friday’s jobs report shows encouraging signs for the labor market.
The rally was broad, with all 10 S&P 500 sectors up and financials in the lead. The S&P’s financial index (.GSPF) gained 1.5 percent.
In the tech arena, Google Inc (GOOG.O) shares hit a new 52-week high of $769.89 earlier in the session. The stock ended up 0.7 percent at $768.05.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose only slightly last week after a big drop the week before, the Labor Department reported on Thursday, leading to hopes that Friday’s closely watched non-farm payrolls report would show improvement.
“We would expect that the market is going to break significantly in one direction or another on payrolls,” said Peter Cecchini, managing director at Cantor Fitzgerald, in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 80.75 points, or 0.6 percent, to 13,575.36 at the close. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 10.41 points, or 0.72 percent, to 1,461.40. The Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) added 14.23 points, or 0.45 percent, to end at 3,149.46.
The S&P 500 has climbed 16.2 percent so far this year. That strong gain, combined with weak global economic data and questions of whether Spain’s bailout will come to pass, have prompted some investors to say the rally is starting to look overextended.
“The bulls have control over this market, clearly. When there is no terrible news, the market goes up,” said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners in New York.