Stocks closed modestly higher on Thursday, with the Dow ending at a record for a third straight day as jobless claims data pointed to a pick-up in the labor market's recovery a day before the closely watched payrolls report.
The Dow and the S&P 500 were both up for their fifth straight days as investors looked for opportunities to buy into the recent rally. However, caution ahead of the jobs report curbed gains and kept the S&P more than 1 percent below its record close.
"Today's move is pretty tranquil. No one is going to take big positions ahead of tomorrow's number, but the market is definitely in an uptrend," said Paul Zemsky, the New York-based head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management.