More signs that interest rates will remain low and upbeat economic news from China gave investors new reason to keep buying stocks Wednesday.
Federal Reserve officials signaled in speeches late Tuesday that a recovery in the economy is likely to be weak. Investors took that as another sign that policymakers will hold interest rates low to help resuscitate growth.
Expectations of low rates weighed on the dollar and gave a boost to commodities. Oil and gold held their advances even after the dollar pulled off of a 15-month low.
Investors also drew encouragement from a 16.1 percent jump in industrial production in China. That fanned expectations that a broader global recovery is gaining steam.
A jump in orders at luxury home builder Toll Brothers Inc. added to hopes that the U.S. economy was also improving.
The mix of news was enough to push the Dow Jones industrial average up 44 points to its sixth straight gain. Both the Dow and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at 13-month highs.
Trading was light because of the Veterans Day holiday, but volume has been weak for most of the month. The bond markets were closed.
Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago, said the growth in China's production is a welcome sign that the country is expanding and that consumers there could be stepping up their buying.
"Chinese industrial numbers show that there's a domestic economy that's beginning to percolate," he said.
Stocks could get another boost Thursday from Hewlett-Packard Co.'s announcement after the closing bell that it had struck and agreement to acquire networking software and equipment maker 3Com Corp. in a deal the companies said was worth $2.7 billion.
The Dow rose 44.29, or 0.4 percent, to 10,291.26. It rose as high as 10,341.97, its best level since Oct. 3, 2008.
The Dow is up 519 points, or 5.3 percent in six days. That's the longest stretch of gains since an eight-day advance in late August.
The S&P 500 index rose 5.50, or 0.5 percent, to 1,098.51 and during trading topped 1,100 for the first time since last year. It hit a 13-month high of 1,105.37 _ also its best level since Oct. 3 last year.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 15.82, or 0.7 percent, to 2,166.90.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 5.74, or 1 percent, to 592.71.
Crude oil rose 23 cents to $79.28 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, gold ended up $12.10 at $1,114.60 an ounce after trading as high as $1119.10.
Ralph Fogel, co-chief investment officer at Fogel Neale Partners in New York, said he expects the dollar will continue to slide and drive trading.
"I don't see anything that's changing out there that's going to stop the dollar from getting weaker," he said.
Record-low interest rates and the resulting slide in the dollar have been major forces behind the surge in stocks since the summer. The borrowing costs of near zero are a boon for financial companies, and the weaker dollar helps make U.S. exports cheaper to overseas buyers.
Home builders rose after Toll Brothers said late Tuesday that it saw a 42 percent jump in signed contracts for new homes in its latest quarter. Toll rose $3.02, or 16.4 percent, to $21.41.
Pulte Homes Inc. rose 77 cents, or 8.1 percent, to $10.23, while Beazer Homes USA Inc. advanced 63 cents, or 12.4 percent, to $5.73.
Macy's Inc.'s fell after it didn't increase its full-year earnings and sales forecasts as much as analysts had hoped. The stock fell $1.57, or 8.1 percent, to $17.86.
Reports from retailers are important because investors are worried that the economy won't be able to sustain its recovery if consumers don't step up their spending.
Investors will be looking for signals about the economy Thursday when Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as well as the department store chains Kohl's Corp. and Nordstrom Inc. post quarterly numbers. Walt Disney Co. is also slated to report.
Three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 4.4 billion shares, in line with Tuesday.
Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.7 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 1 percent, and France's CAC-40 added 0.8 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.1 percent.