U.S. stocks continued to rise Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 hitting fresh highs, boosted by the Federal Reserve's commitment to keeping interest rates low for a considerable time.
The two indices hit all-time highs of 17,275.37 points and 2012.34 points respectively in intraday trading.
By the end of the day, the Dow rose 109.14 points, or 0.64 percent, to 17,265.99. The S&P 500 added 9.79 points, or 0.49 percent, to 2,011.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 31.24 points, or 0.68 percent, to 4,593.42.
"It likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends," the Fed said in a statement released after a two-day meeting Wednesday.
The stock market had moved back and forth in the past couple of weeks amid worries about an earlier-than-expected rate hike.
On the economic front, the number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits last week declined by 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 280,000 people, said the Labor Department Thursday.
U.S. privately owned housing starts in August fell 14.4 percent, while housing permits dropped 5.6 percent, reported the Commerce Department.
The Manufacturing sector index in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region fell as expected to 22.5 in September, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Thursday. Any reading above zero suggests an expansion in the sector.
On corporate news, Alibaba announced Thursday that it had priced its initial public offering (IPO) of 320 million shares at 68 U.S. dollars per share, for a total offering size of approximately 21.8 billion dollars, making it the largest U.S. IPO ever. The Chinese e-commerce giant will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday under the ticker symbol "BABA."
The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street's fear gauge, slumped 4.90 percent to end at 12.03 on Thursday.
In other markets, crude price lost Thursday as dollar appreciated. A stronger greenback made the dollar-priced crude less attractive for buyers holding other currencies.
Light, sweet crude for October delivery moved down 1.35 dollars to settle at 93.07 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for November delivery lost 1.27 dollars to close at 97.70 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange went down Thursday, with the most active gold contract for December delivery down 9 dollars, or 0.73 percent, to settle at 1,226.9 dollars per ounce.
The U.S. dollar traded mixed against major currencies Thursday and hit a more-than-six-year peak against the yen. In late New York trading, the euro declined to 1.2917 dollars from 1.2919 dollars of the previous session, and the dollar bought 108.77 Japanese yen, higher than 108.00 yen of the previous session.