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Dow average hits record before Friday's jobs report

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Stocks climbed as data showing the world's largest economy is strengthening overshadowed inflation worries, with investors awaiting Friday's jobs report. The dollar retreated. 

The S&P 500 closed near session highs, while the Dow Jones industrial average rose to a record. In a volatile session, tech stocks finished among the biggest gainers. China's shares traded in New York briefly extended losses after Bloomberg News reported that the Biden administration probably will preserve limits on U.S. investments in some companies from China.

Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance fell last week to a fresh pandemic low as labor market conditions continued to improve and the economy reopened more broadly. Separate data highlighted a rebound in productivity as the pace of output exceeded a pickup in hours worked. Traders are now awaiting Friday's employment report, which is expected to show that the U.S. added about 1 million jobs in April.

"With jobless claims hitting a pandemic-era low, anticipation for the full jobs picture tomorrow mounts," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade Financial. "Today's read is another proof point that we're one step closer to full economic recovery. As we see some serious momentum building on the jobs front, all eyes will be on how this plays into action taken by the Fed."

After closing at a fresh high on Wednesday, the Dow Jones transportation average - considered a barometer of economy activity - surged 25% above its 200-day moving average. The move could be "perceived as indicative of strength likely to continue in the broader equity market," said Bloomberg Intelligence's Gina Martin Adams.



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