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Record-breaker for stocks sparked by upbeat Fed comments

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the trading day Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at record hig...
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the trading day Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at record high today, up 169.26 points to close at 15,460.92.Andrew Burton / Getty Images

It was a record-breaking day on Wall Street on Thursday.

Not only did the Dow and S&P 500 crash through their previous record highs, but the technology-heavy Nasdaq closed at its highest level in 13 years when the dot-com bubble was bursting.

The Nasdaq had its best day in three months, jumping 57.55 points, or 1.63 percent and closing at its highest level -- 3,578.30 -- since Sept. 29, 2000. That was when the dot-com bubble was bursting after a speculative period from 1997 when stock markets saw their equity value rise rapidly from growth in the Internet sector and related fields.

Thursday's big surge upwards came less than a day after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed would keep its foot on the stimulus gas pedal for some time, even if the unemployment rate hit the Fed's target of 6.5 percent.

His remarks were bolstered by the minutes from the Fed's latest policy meeting, which showed that policymakers wanted further reassurances about the strength of the jobs market before pulling back on stimulus measures.

(Read More: Will Investors Finally Buy Bernanke's Explanation)

Uncertainty over the Fed's direction had caused concern in the markets for weeks, but on Thursday Bernanke's words seemed to remove any doubt and investors went wild.

Thursday also saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average shoot up 169.26 points, or 1.11 percent, to close at a new all-time high of 15460.92. All 30 Dow components finished higher, led by Intel and Microsoft. The blue-chip index's point gain for 2013 is already greater than any year on record.

The S&P 500 soared 22.40 points, or 1.36 percent, to finish at 1,675.02, logging its sixth-consecutive rally and also setting a new closing high. The index is now on pace for its biggest weekly gain since January.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, slid near 14.

"While you cannot guarantee that short-covering is taking place, this looks, smells and feels like a huge short-covering," said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services. "Next week, we have the equivalent of what used to be the Humphrey-Hawkins testimony so we could get a lot of volatility again."

On a day for records:

  • The Dow and S&P 500 had their best day in one month
  • The S&P 500 has its first 6-day winning streak in almost two years
  • This was the second highest number of advancing stocks at the New York Stock Exchange this year (2,203 stocks rose at the NYSE…the most since the first trading day of the year on Jan. 2)
  • All 10 S&P 500 sectors ended the day up, and 8 of 10 sectors closed up over 1 percent.
  • All 30 Dow stocks, 90 percent of the S&P 500, and 94 percent of the Nasdaq 100 closed up.

(Read More: What Did Ben Say? Playing the Fed Word Game)

The dollar dropped broadly against a basket of currencies, with its index falling to $82.418, its lowest since June 25 and down around 2.8 percent from the three-year high of $84.753. Meanwhile, Treasury prices gained after the government auctioned $13 billion in 30-year bonds at a high yield of 3.660 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, was 2.26, versus the recent average of 2.59.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims rose by 16,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, according to the Labor Department, above expectations for a reading of 340,000. The four-week moving average of new claims increased by a more modest 6,000 to 351,750.

Meanwhile, import and export prices declined for the fourth-straight month in June, according to the Labor Department.

Gasoline prices are forecast to jump between 10 and 20 cents per gallon within the next few days, driven by rising oil prices and peak driving season. Oil prices have risen in recent weeks on geopolitical concerns, along with declining inventories.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite rose above the key 2,000 level for a second straight session on hopes that Wednesday's dismal trade data will lead the Chinese central bank to ease monetary policy in an effort to boost growth.

(Poll: Will China Experience a 'Hard Landing' in 2013?)

Meanwhile, the yen strengthened further against the dollar on Thursday after the Bank of Japan held its monetary policy steady, but upgraded the country's economic outlook.

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