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Dow closes with record 17,068 on report of hiring surge

Specialist Jason Hardzewicz is framed by the monitors

Specialist Jason Hardzewicz is framed by the monitors at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. May's job gain meant that U.S. economy, the world's biggest, had finally recovered all the jobs lost to the recession. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 17,000 points Thursday for the first time. It is the index's first big 1,000-point milestone this year. The Standard & Poor's 500 index also set a record.

At the close on Wall Street, the Dow had gained 92. points, or about 0.5 percent, to 17,068.3. The S&P 500 added 10.8 points, or nearly 0.6 percent, to 1,985.4, and the Nasdaq composite closed up 28.2 points, or about 0.6 percent, at 4,486. Trading ended at 1 p.m. and the markets are closed until Monday for the July Fourth holiday weekend.

The market rose from the opening of trading after the government reported that U.S. employers hired more employees than investors and economists expected. Trading was light. Roughly 1.9 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the slowest day for Wall Street this year.

Thursday's gains add to what has been a strong six weeks for Wall Street. Along with the Dow hitting 17,000, the Standard & Poor's 500 index is approaching its own milestone of 2,000. The indexes have risen as a steady stream of good news on jobs and manufacturing bolsters investor confidence.

"Right now the story is onward and upward," said senior trader Neil Massa, at John Hancock Asset Management.

Investors seemed encouraged by the latest jobs report from the Department of Labor, which said U.S. employers added 288,000 workers to their payrolls in June, far more than forecast. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent. The government also said employers hired more people in previous months than reported earlier: 217,000 in May and 304,000 in April. The U.S. economy is now creating about 231,000 jobs each month in 2014, compared to roughly 194,000 a month last year.

Among individual stocks, the pet supply chain PetSmart rose the most in the S&P 500. PetSmart gained $7.48, or 13 percent, to $67.28 after the activist investor firm Jana Partners disclosed a 9.9 percent stake in the company.

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