The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose to levels it hasn't hit in more than four years today, bolstered by the European Central Bank's plan to buy bonds of struggling countries to help support the euro. Strong U.S. jobs data also contributed to the gains.
The broad S&P 500 index soared 2 percent to close at 1432.12, its highest point since January 2008.
The Dow Jones Industrial Index nearly matched that gain, rising by 1.9 percent (244.52 points) to reach 13,292, its highest close since December 2007. And the Nasdaq Composite Index outpaced both of them,, tacking on 2.2 percent to reach 3135.81 — its highest mark since November 2000, according to The Wall Street Journal.
About two weeks ago, the S&P 500 briefly reached 1,426 in mid-day trading. At the time, it was the highest level the index had reached since May 2008 — and like Thursday's gains, that Aug. 21 spike was attributed to expectations that the European Central Bank would buy bonds to help Europe's struggling economies.
One notable change since that date is the removal of Sears from the Standard & Poor's index. The venerable American retailer's last day on the S&P 500 was Tuesday. Its place was taken by LyondellBasell, a Dutch chemicals company whose stock rose 3.15 percent Thursday.