The Dow Jones industrial average extended its winning streak to 10 days on Thursday, a string of gains last seen in late 1996, and ended at another record high as investors were encouraged by data showing the labor market's recovery was improving.
The S&P 500 took a late-day run at its record closing high of 1,565.15, but ended just 2 points away. The 30-stock Dow Jones industrial average has been setting record highs since last week, when it rallied on March 5 to initially surpass its previous lifetime closing peak set in October 2007.
U.S. equities have accelerated their run higher without a major consolidation since the start of the year, driven by improvement in the economy and the Federal Reserve's continuation of its easy monetary policy.
"It's simply a natural progression for prices to move to new highs in order for the market to advance. I don't think it's scaring investors," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
"Fund flows really have reversed direction, and money started moving out of money markets and some from fixed income to equities. This kind of trend doesn't change easily so we can expect a lot more to come in."
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 83.86 points, or 0.58 percent, to 14,539.14, a record closing high. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX rose 8.71 points, or 0.56 percent, to 1,563.23, about 2 points from its record closing high of 1,565.15, set on October 9, 2007.
The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC advanced 13.81 points, or 0.43 percent, to end at 3,258.93.
Three months into the year, the Dow has shot up nearly 11 percent while the S&P 500 has gained 9.6 percent
Earlier Thursday, the Dow set another lifetime intraday high at 14,539.29.
Data on Thursday offered fresh signs of strength in the U.S. labor market as the number of filings for new unemployment benefits fell for the third week in a row.
The U.S. Producer Price Index rose in February by the most in five months as gasoline prices spiked, the Labor Department said in a separate report. There was, however, little sign of a broader increase in inflation pressures that could force the Fed to tighten monetary policy.
Boosted by the data, the housing sector index .HGX. rose 1.5 percent and the Dow Jones Transportation Average .DJT added 0.8 percent.
Ten of the Dow's 30 stocks hit at least 52-week highs, including Walt Disney Co (DIS.N). International Business Machines (IBM.N) shares climbed to a lifetime intraday high of $215.85, and closed at $215.80, up 1.8 percent.
Energy shares led the Dow and the S&P 500 higher, with the S&P energy sector index .SPNY gaining 1.3 percent. Chevron (CVX.N) was among the Dow's biggest percentage gainers, rising 1.4 percent to $120, after earlier hitting a fresh 52-week intraday high of $120.26.
After the bell, the Federal Reserve released scores for 18 U.S. bank holding companies that show how low their capital ratios would fall under proposed plans for dividends and stock buybacks if "severely adverse" economic conditions unfolded over the next two years.
JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) shares fell 2 percent in extended-hours trading while Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) fell 1.9 percent.
During the regular session, Apple Inc (AAPL.O) shares rose 1 percent to $432.50. Its rival Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS) launched the latest Galaxy phone in New York on Thursday.
Shares of eBay (EBAY.O), operator of one of the largest online marketplaces, climbed 1.6 percent to $51.80 after Evercore Partners raised its rating to "overweight."
But on the downside, shares of Amazon (AMZN.O), the world's biggest Internet retailer, fell 3.4 percent to $265.74 after JPMorgan cut its rating on the stock to "neutral" from "overweight" and lowered its price target to $300 from $333.
E*Trade (ETFC.O) shares lost 8.2 percent to $10.85 after Citadel LLC, its largest investor, said it is selling its entire stake in the discount brokerage and bank company.
Volume was below average, with roughly 6 billion shares trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the 2012 average daily closing volume of about 6.45 billion.
Advancers outnumbered decliners on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq by a ratio of about 2 to 1.