NEW YORK, March 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to an all-time intraday high and closing high for three days in a row, ending the day above 14,300 for the first time, boosted by an improving U.S. jobs market.
The blue-chip Dow was up 33.25 points, or 0.23 percent, to 14, 329.49. The broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index rose 2.80 points, or 0.18 percent, to 1,544.26. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 9.72 points, or 0.30 percent, to 3,232.09.
After the rally, the S&P 500 was just 1.3 percent below its historical closing high.
The main stock indices opened higher following a modestly rising equity market in Europe after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services revised on Thursday the outlook on Portugal's long-term rating from negative to stable while strong demand for Spanish bond drove the yield lower.
Both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England expectedly kept their interest rates unchanged Thursday.
The number of Americans applying for initial jobless claims last week decreased to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 347,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The four-week moving average, a smoother indicator, was 348,750, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week 's revised average of 355,750.
Meanwhile, productivity of nonfarm business sector decreased at a 1.9 percent annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2012, the U. S. Labor Department said Thursday.
Among other data, trade deficit in January increased to 44.4 billion dollars from 38.1 billion dollars in December, higher than market expectation, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Thursday.
A rally in the financial sector pushed the S&P 500 higher. The Federal Reserve will release a first round of stress-test results for banks after the closing bell.
Dell shares inched down 0.70 percent to 14.22 dollars after the activist investor Carl Icahn wrote to Dell's board, saying that the 24.4 billion go-private deal substantially undervalued the personal computer maker.
Time Warner shares rose 2.39 percent to 56.78 dollars after the company said it would spin off its entire Time Inc. magazine business.
In other markets, crude prices increased. Light, sweet crude for April delivery gained 1.13 dollars, or 1.24 percent, to settle at 91.56 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for April delivery rose 9 cents to close at 111.15 dollars a barrel.
The U.S. dollar weakened against most major currencies on Thursday after major central banks left benchmark interest rates unchanged.
In late New York trading, the euro jumped to 1.3108 dollars from 1.2994 of the previous session and the British pound slipped to 1.5017 from 1.5040 dollars. The Australian dollar climbed to 1. 0274 dollars from 1.0243 dollars.
The dollar bought 94.85 Japanese yen, higher than 94.07 in the previous session. It edged down to 0.9427 Swiss francs from 0.9477 and dropped to 1.0289 Canadian dollars from 1.0312.