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S&P closes above 2,000 for first time

Traders work on the floor of the New

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 on Wall Street. The U.S. dollar has risen against major currencies since Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's speech to the Jackson Hole, Wyoming conference Friday. Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

It was a big round-number day Tuesday for the stock market. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed a hair above 2,000 points, 16 years after it closed above 1,000 points for the first time.

It was a close worthy of the tightest footrace. Moments before the close on Wall Street it dipped below 2,000, then edged up 2.1 points, or 0.1 percent, to end at 2,000.02. Seven of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index gained, led by energy stocks. Utilities declined the most.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 29.8 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,106.7. The Nasdaq composite gained 13.29 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,570.6.

The S&P 500 index, a widely followed barometer of the stock market, has closed at a new high 30 times this year. By this time last year, it had done so 25 times.

"There's perhaps a small psychological boost when you get over such a significant price level," said Cameron Hinds, regional chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank.

U.S. stocks, in the midst of a five-year rally, have surged in the final weeks of the summer after dipping earlier this month on concerns about geopolitical tensions in Ukraine, Russia and the Middle East.

The latest string of shattered market benchmarks comes as investors cheered new indications that the economy is strengthening, setting the stage for stronger company earnings.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose this month to the highest point in nearly seven years. A separate report showed that orders of durable manufactured goods surged by a record 22.6 percent in July, thanks to a jump in aircraft sales. A third report showed U.S. home prices rose in June, although at a slower pace.

The major U.S. indexes are riding a three-week streak of weekly gains and are up for the year. The string of record highs this year isn't unusual when a market is recovering from a downturn, said Kate Warne, an investment strategist at Edward Jones.

In the past, once stocks have hit a new high after a downturn, they have continued higher for about two years, on average, she said. The first time the S&P 500 hit a new high after the financial crisis was March 2013. So this year's record run is still within the average range.

"Markets don't climb sharply. They tend to climb slowly, and that's probably good news for a continued climb in the future," Warne said.

The Dow also has put up some big numbers this year, notching 15 new closing highs. That trails the 30 it racked up by this time a year ago.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.39 percent. U.S. crude for October delivery rose 51 cents to $93.86 a barrel. In metals trading, gold rose $6.30 to $1,285.20 an ounce, silver rose three cents to $19.39 an ounce and copper fell three cents to $3.19 a pound.

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