Dow Jones industrials breach 24,000 for first time

U.S. stocks powered to new highs on Wall Street, giving the Dow Jones industrials their biggest gain since March and putting them past 24,000 points for the first time.

On Bay Street, the S&P/TSX composite index gained 99.76 points to 16,067.48

Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS, wears a Dow 24,000 hat as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed 24,000 for the first time. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Wall Street finished November with a broad rally that gave the Dow Jones industrial average its biggest gain since March and pushed it past the 24,000 mark for the first time.

Other market indicators also reached milestones on Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, which is widely followed by professional investors, had its biggest monthly gain since February.

Technology stocks were responsible for much of the gain, following a sharp pullback the day before.

Investors were encouraged by the latest batch of economic data pointing to a pickup in global and domestic demand. But the run-up in the market really kicked in after developments in Washington gave traders fresh optimism that the Republican-led effort to forge a sweeping tax cut bill will succeed.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

"A parade of data have surprised to the upside and that's helped underpin the market's tone," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "But clearly the move toward tax reform, moving through the hurdles, has the market poised for a tax reform package to be legislated either at the end of this year or early next year."

The S&P 500 index climbed 21.51 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 2,647.58. The Dow jumped 331.67 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 24,272.35. The average was briefly up more than 387 points.

The Nasdaq added 49.58 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 6,873.97. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1.84 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 1,544.14.

Meanwhile, Canada's main stock index rose sharply, boosted by a strengthening energy sector after OPEC and Russia agreed to prolong crude output cuts until the end of next year.

The S&P/TSX composite index advanced 99.76 points to 16,067.48, with oil and gas company stocks up more than two per cent.

Nine of the 12 subgroups closed higher, led by health care, adding 1.99 points, or 2.61 per cent, to 78.30 points. Telecom services led the decliners, losing 0.79 of a point, or 0.45 per cent, to 174.23 points.

In commodities, the January crude contract was up 10 cents to $57.40 US per barrel and the January natural gas contract was down 15 cents to $3.03 US per mmBTU.

The February gold contract fell $9.50 US to $1,276.70 US an ounce and the March copper contract gave back about a penny at $3.06 US a pound.

with files from The Canadian Press