New York Stock Exchange
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Reuters

The Dow Jones Industrial Average made financial history on Tuesday, closing above 15,000 in the latest achievement of a four-year rally that has seen the index of shares in the 30 largest U.S. corporations surge 130 percent.

The blue-chip index closed up 87.31, or 0.58 percent, to 15,056.20, marking the fastest start to any year since 1999, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The broader S&P 500 Index, which has been setting records since the middle of last month, climbed 8.46 points, or 0.52 percent, to close at 1,625.96, a record high. The index, which is being led higher by telecommunications and industrials, set an intra-day record high earlier Tuesday when it hit 1,626.03. The S&P 500 began Tuesday's session up 13.9 percent since the beginning of the year, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

Traders cited strong economic data like Friday's surprisingly strong April nonfarm payroll report and strong first-quarter reports. The main driver behind the Dow's latest record, however, has been the unprecedented money printing of the Federal Reserve.

"This is a QE-fueled market," Steven Bulko, of Lombard Odier Investment Management, told Bloomberg, referring to the Fed's "quantitative easing" policy that has expanded the central bank's balance sheet from less than $1 trillion in 2008 to more than $3 trillion this year.

The Dow's performance mirrors that of similar indexes in other developed economies. Earlier, in Germany, the country's benchmark DAX stock index closed at 8,181.78 -- a new high -- in response to France’s declaration that it was finished with fiscal austerity and the European Central Bank's decision to cut a key interest rate. Further, Australia’s central bank unexpectedly cut its main interest rate to a record low of 2.75 percent, which helped send Japanese stocks to a five-year high.

The FTSE All-World equity index rose 0.7 percent to its highest level since June 2008, the Financial Times said.

Since June 4, 2012, the S&P 500 has climbed nearly 30 percent. Since Nov. 15, 2012, the index has climbed 21 percent.