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The S&P 500 climbed to an all-time high on Thursday after weekly jobless claims came in slightly better than expected.

© Provided by CNBC Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

The broad equity benchmark added 0.4% to hit an all-time high on pace for its 54th record closing high of 2021. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 130 points, lifted by Apple and Chevron. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.4%.

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First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 340,000 for the week ended August 28, versus a Dow Jones expectation of 345,000. The number is also the lowest since March 2020 at the height of the Covid crisis.

The data came in a day before the key August jobs report, which investors are watching closely to decipher how fast the Federal Reserve will remove easy monetary policy. Economists predict 720,000 jobs were added in the month, down from 943,000 jobs added in July.

Pet retailer Chewy and retailer Five Below saw shares tumble 9% and 8%, respectively, after reporting quarterly results. Shares of ChargePoint, the maker of charge systems for electric vehicles, jumped 12% after reporting stellar quarterly earnings.

Wall Street started out September trading with muted action on Wednesday with the S&P 500 closing near the flat line. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.3% to eke out a record.

While September has been among the seasonally weakest months of the year, many hold a constructive view on the market as the technical backdrop remains solid and the economic reopening from the pandemic continues.

“The relentless march higher on low volatility in U.S. equities continues and with breadth, volume positioning and sentiment measures all positive in our view we look for the rally to extend further into new highs yet,” Credit Suisse said in a note Wednesday.

Energy stocks fell during Wednesday as oil and gas prices continue to rise with Hurricane Ida shutting down oil production and refining operations. Those losses were offset by gains in utility and real estate stocks.

Small-cap stocks made bigger moves, with the Russell 2000 index gaining 0.6% on Wednesday following a 2.1% gain in August. Analysts and investors say that movement in small caps is tied to a move higher in value stocks.

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