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Dow Targets Third-Consecutive Record Closing


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock averages were rising Thursday afternoon as the Dow Jones Industrial Average looked to post a third-consecutive all-time closing high.

The S&P 500 hovered around multi-year highs, after an impressive read on the U.S. labor market and as the U.S. dollar fell.

Bank stocks and Boeing(BA) were some of the biggest advancers of the day.

The S&P 500 has been inching closer and closer toward its all-time closing high of 1565 reached in October 2007.

But Brian Amidei, a Palm Desert, Calif.-based managing director at HighTower Advisors, cautioned that all these new highs in the markets need to be taken with "a grain of salt" as the landscape today is very different than in 2007. "We have never seen this much Fed intervention and this low of an interest rate environment in any past markets."

Amidei said when the S&P 500 was at its peak in 2007, trailing 12-month corporate earnings were $89.35 a share, producing a price-earnings ratio of 17.5. Earnings today, meanwhile, are at $98.30 a share, with the market currently trading at an earnings multiple of about 14.8. If the S&P 500 were trading at the same earnings multiple as at its 2007 peak, the index would be at 1722, roughly 18% higher than the current level, he explained.

"You cannot argue with the price/earnings ratio as being cheap right now, but since we are in uncharted waters, I am recommending clients proceed with caution and add to the market on pullbacks," said Amidei.

The Dow was rising 34.75, or 0.24%, to 14,330.99.

Breadth was positive, with winners outnumbering losers 22-8. Boeing, Bank of America (BAC) , Intel(INTC) and JPMorgan(JPM) shares were climbing furthest.

Financial stocks rose ahead of the Federal Reserve's annual stress test results set to arrive after the closing bell Thursday.

Boeing shares were up 2.4% and jumped to their highest level since June 2008 after Reuters reported that U.S. safety regulators could approve in just days a plan to allow the aerospace giant to begin flight tests of the 787 Dreamliner with a fix for its volatile batteries.

Home Depot (HD) , Merck(MRK) and Exxon(XOM) shares were declining the most.

The S&P 500 was up more than 1 point, or 0.07%, at 1,542.58. The Nasdaq was higher by more than 2 points, or 0.09%, at 3,225.29.

Sector action mostly positive in the broader market, as capital goods, conglomerates, energy and financials rose, and consumer cyclicals and transportation shares fell.

Volumes totaled 2.32 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.06 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers were overtaking decliners by a ratio of 1.1-to-1 on the Big Board and on the Nasdaq.

A raft of U.S. economic data was released Thursday, ahead of Friday's widely-watched nonfarm payrolls report for February.