By CHRISTINA REXRODE, AP Business Writer
NEW YORK —
Stocks rose Thursday morning after an encouraging employment report, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 index above 1,700 points for the first time.
The S&P 500, which investors follow closely as a gauge for the rest of the market, was up 15 points in early trading, enough to push it a fraction of a point over the 1,700 marker.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 127 points, or 0.8 percent, to 15,626. The Dow is also at a record high.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 33 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,659.
The driving force for the advance was a report from the Labor Department that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest since 2008.
Investors know that employment figures that track just a week are volatile, but it was still a surprisingly strong number. Economists are likely rethinking their estimates on July job growth, numbers that the government will release Friday.
The S&P 500 has never closed above 1,700, nor has it crossed that mark in intraday trading. Previously, its highest close was 1,695.52 on July 22.
Automakers are posting sales for July, and Chrysler started the industry off with a bang. The Detroit automaker said sales rose 11 percent last month, its best July in seven years.
The price of crude oil rose $2.36 to $107.38 a barrel. Gold rose $8.40 to $1,321 an ounce. The dollar rose against the euro and the Japanese yen.
In U.S. government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.66 percent from 2.58 percent late Wednesday.
Among stocks making big moves:
—Dell rose 24 cents, or 2 percent, to $12.90. Its shareholders are scheduled to vote Friday on an offer by CEO and founder Michael Dell to buy the company.
—Exxon Mobil fell $1.65, or 2 percent, to $92.08, after reporting lower earnings as oil and gas production slipped. Profit margins on refining oil also fell.
—J.C. Penney rose 42 cents, or 3 percent, to $15.03. The stock plunged Wednesday after a report that CIT, the largest lender in the clothing industry, had stopped supporting deliveries from the chain’s suppliers. J.C. Penney said Thursday that the report wasn’t true.