* Jobless claims unexpectedly fall, down for third week
* Energy shares boost market; eBay rises after upgrade
* Dow up 0.5 pct; S&P 500 up 0.4 pct; Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, March 14 (Reuters) - The Dow Jones industrial
average extended its recent winning streak to 10 days and the
S&P 500 closed in on a record high on Thursday as investors were
encouraged by data that showed the labor market's recovery was
By late afternoon trade, the S&P 500 was less than 5 points
away from its closing peak of 1,565.15, following in the
footsteps of the 30-stock Dow Jones industrial average, which
has been setting record highs since last week.
The Dow was on track for its 10th day in a row of gains,
which would match a string of advances last seen in late 1996.
U.S. equities have accelerated their rise since the start of the
year, driven by improvement in the economy and the Federal
Reserve's continued easy monetary policy.
"It's simply a natural progression for prices to move to new
highs in order for the market to advance. I don't think it's
scaring investors," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer
of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
"Fund flows really have reversed direction, and money
started moving out of money markets and some from fixed income
to equities. This kind of trend doesn't change easily so we can
expect a lot more to come in."
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 64.89 points,
or 0.45 percent, at 14,520.17. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 6.57 points, or 0.42 percent, at 1,561.09. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 10.27 points, or 0.32
percent, at 3,255.39.
Earlier in the session, the Dow reached yet another lifetime
intraday high - at 14,528.79.
Three months into the year, the Dow has shot up more than 10
percent, while the S&P 500 has gained 9 percent.
Data on Thursday offered fresh signs of strength in the U.S.
labor market as the number of filings for new unemployment
benefits fell for the third week in a row.
The U.S. Producer Price Index rose in February by the most
in five months as gasoline prices spiked, the Labor Department
said in a separate report. There was, however, little sign of a
broader increase in inflation pressures that could force the Fed
to tighten monetary policy.
Ten of the Dow's 30 stocks hit at least 52-week highs on an
intraday basis, while International Business Machines
climbed to a record intraday high, rising 1.7 percent to
$215.59. In late afternoon trading, IBM was at $215.53, up 1.6
percent from Wednesday's close.
Energy shares led the Dow and the S&P 500 higher, with the
S&P energy sector index gaining 1.2 percent. Chevron
was among the Dow's biggest percentage gainers, rising
1.4 percent to $119.99, after earlier hitting a fresh 52-week
intraday high of $120.26.
Shares of eBay, operator of one of the largest
online marketplaces, climbed 1.6 percent to $51.80 after
Evercore Partners raised its rating to "overweight."
But on the downside, shares of Amazon, the world's
biggest Internet retailer, fell 3.1 percent to $266.46 after
JPMorgan cut its rating on the stock to "neutral" from
"overweight" and lowered its price target to $300 from $333.
E*Trade shares lost 8 percent to $10.88 after
Citadel LLC, its largest investor, said it is selling its entire
stake in the discount brokerage and bank company.