The momentum of the rally pushed the stock market to close up slightly as Thursday's data indicated that the job market is stabilizing, inflation is subdued, and the manufacturing sector is expanding.
The S&P 500 Index closed down 0.39 points, or 0.03 percent, at 1,165.82. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 45.50 points, or 0.42 percent, at 10,779.17. The Nasdaq Composite closed up 0.09 percent.
Notable gainers on Thursday include NIKE (NYSE:NIKE), up 5.33 percent, after it reported better than expected earnings on Wednesday in after-hours. FedEx ((NYSE:FDX) closed up 3.20 percent after it reported better than expected earnings this morning.
Health care stocks performed well, with Aetna (NYSE:AET) closing up 4.73 percent, Humana (NYSE:HUM) climbing 3.86 percent, and WellPoint (NYSE:WLP) rising 3.04 percent.
The stock market rallied this week on the confirmation of the status quo.
When the Federal Reserve officials stated on Tuesday that they expect to keep interest rates low for an extended period, the stock market responded positively.
The S&P 500 gained 0.78 percent on Tuesday. The momentum carried over to Wednesday, when it gained 0.58 percent as a Department of Labor report confirmed the Fed's assessment that inflation is subdued.
On Thursday, the Department of Labor reported that unemployment claims declined from the previous week.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that consumers prices were unchanged in February and the Philadelphia Fed reported that manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region expanded for the seventh consecutive month.