NEW YORK -- The Dow Jones industrial average topped 17,000 for the first time Thursday, the index's first big 1,000-point milestone this year, following news that hiring in the U.S. accelerated last month.
The market rose from the opening of trading after the government reported that U.S. employers hired more employees than investors and economists expected.
Trading was extremely light, though, and the market closed early ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.
Thursday's gains add to what has been a strong month-and-a-half for Wall Street. Along with the Dow hitting 17,000, the Standard & Poor's 500 index is approaching its own milestone of 2,000.
The indexes have risen as a steady stream of good news on jobs and manufacturing bolsters investor confidence.
"Right now the story is onward and upward," said Neil Massa, senior trader at John Hancock Asset Management.
The Dow rose 92.02 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,068.26. The S&P 500 rose 10.82 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,985.44 and the Nasdaq composite rose 28.19 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,485.93.
Investors were encouraged by the latest jobs report from the Department of Labor, which said U.S. employers added 288,000 workers to their payrolls in June, far more than forecast. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent.
The government also said employers hired more people in previous months than reported earlier: 217,000 in May and 304,000 in April. The U.S. economy is now creating around 231,000 jobs each month in 2014, compared to roughly 194,000 a month last year.
"It topped even some of the most optimistic of forecasts," Massa said.
The jobs report is the latest piece of data to show the U.S. economy continuing to steadily improve.
On Wednesday, the payroll processor ADP said private businesses added 281,000 jobs in June, up from 179,000 in May.
Also this week, the Institute for Supply Management said the U.S. manufacturing sector expanded for the 13th consecutive month.