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Dow Extends Record Highs

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock averages were higher late Thursday afternoon, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average progressing further into record territory after a better-than-expected ADP employment report.

Volumes were thin, however, and the Nasdaq was wavering between negative and positive territory.

The Dow closed at a record high on Tuesday, marking a new peak in a four-year rally that began in March 2009 at the depth of the financial crisis, helped in part by global central bank stimulus and S&P 500 companies largely exceeding earnings and revenue estimates.

Michael Gayed, chief investment strategist of Pension Partners and co-portfolio manager of the ATAC Inflation Rotation Fund, said that while it feels exciting to see the Dow hitting new all-time highs, "there are a number of notable disconnects which make such euphoria vulnerable to ending."

Gayed pointed out that for the past several weeks, numerous areas within and across markets have been behaving in a defensive manner, and divergences are occurring in multiples places at once.

The Russell 2000 Index, for example, has not hit new all time-highs, lagging large-cap stocks recently.

"This may be a tell on future direction given that the Russell 2000 consists of high beta small-cap names," Gayed warned. "Everyone looking at the Dow level is no different than everyone focusing on a basketball being passed around while an invisible Gorilla walks across our screens."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was rising more than 28 points, or 0.2%, at 14,281.88.

Breadth was positive, with winners outnumbering losers 21-9. Alcoa(AA) , Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) , Bank of America (BAC) and Cisco(CSCO) were the biggest percentage blue-chip gainers.

Microsoft(MSFT) , Verizon Communications (VZ) and Caterpillar(CAT) were among the sharpest decliners.

Microsoft shares were sliding 0.49% after the European Union fined the company €561 million ($732.2 million) for failing to offer consumers a choice of Web browser.

Verizon shares were falling 0.63%. The company is looking to acquire 100% of Verizon Wireless , its joint venture with Vodafone(VOD) , Bloomberg reported. Vodafone shares were rising 1%.

The S&P 500 was rising nearly more than 3 points, or 0.22%, at 1,543.17, heading closer to its all-time intraday high of 1,576.09.

The Nasdaq was up more than 2 points, or 0.08%, at 3,226.60.

Most sectors in the broader market were rising. The biggest gainers were consumer cyclicals, conglomerates, basic materials and energy. The utilities, transportation and services sectors was falling.

Volumes totaled 2.55 billion shares on the Big Board and 1.24 billion shares on the Nasdaq. Advancers were edging decliners by a ratio of 1.2-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange and on the Nasdaq.

Ahead of the nonfarm payrolls report on Friday, the ADP jobs report Wednesday showed a decline in private jobs to 198,000 in February, from an upwardly revised 215,000. Economists expected a fall in private-sector jobs to 170,000.