S&P 500 closes at record high

Olympic skeleton silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace, with her

Olympic skeleton silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace, with her husband, Jason Pace, and their children visit Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, with specialist Christopher Culhane, left, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after ringing the opening bell. (Credit: AP / Ben Hider)

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After knocking on the door all week, the stock market logged a record Thursday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index had moved above its previous all-time high on numerous occasions this week, only to fade in afternoon trading. Thursday, the index stayed higher after getting a boost from strong earnings reported by a number of U.S. companies including several retailers.

J.C. Penney jumped $1.51, or 25.34 percent, to $7.47 after the department store chain swung to a profit in the fourth quarter after posting a big loss in the same period a year earlier.

The market has staged an impressive turnaround in February after slumping at the start of the year. Growth in corporate earnings and optimism that the Federal Reserve will keep supporting the economy have helped support demand for stocks.

The timing of the new record, just before spring, could help the market extend its gains, said Ryan Detrick, a senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

The S&P 500 rose 0.49 percent to 1,854.29. Its previous record high close was 1,848.38, set Jan. 15.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 74.24 points to 16,272.65. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.63 percent to 4,318.93.-- AP

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