Dow tops 17,000 for first time

The Dow Jones industrial average has topped 17,000 for the first time, the index's first big 1,000-point milestone this year, following news that hiring in the US accelerated last month.

The Dow Jones has risen again after strong jobs statistics
The Dow Jones has risen again after strong jobs statistics

The market rose from the start of trading after the government reported that US employers hired more employees than investors and economists expected. Trading was extremely light, though, and the market closed early ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

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

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

The Dow rose 92.02 points, or 0.5%, to finish at 17,068.26, an all-time high. The S&P 500 closed up 10.82 points, or 0.6%, to 1,985.44 and the Nasdaq composite gained 28.19 points, or 0.6%, to 4,485.93.

Investors were encouraged by the latest jobs report from the Department of Labour, which showed US employers added 288,000 workers to their payrolls in June, far more than forecast. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1%.

The government also said employers hired more people in previous months than reported earlier: 217,000 in May and 304,000 in April. The US economy is now creating around 231,000 jobs each month in 2014, compared to roughly 194,000 a month last year.

"It topped even some of the most optimistic of forecasts," Mr Massa said.

The jobs report is the latest piece of data to show the US economy continues to improve steadily. On Wednesday, the payroll processor ADP said private businesses added 281,000 jobs in June, up from 179,000 in May. Also this week, the Institute for Supply Management said that US manufacturing expanded for the 13th consecutive month.