NEW YORK — NEW YORK -- Signs that the economy is finally picking up steam helped carry stocks higher for a second consecutive day.
The NASDAQ Combined Composite, the Standard & Poor's 500 and the New York Stock Exchange Composite indexes all closed at record levels. The Dow Jones industrial average, led by Westinghouse Electric Corp., gained 17.56, to 3,266.26.
The broader market averages were led by shares of economically sensitive automobile, electrical-equipment and long-distance telephone companies. The NASDAQ composite advanced 2.38, to 648.32, the S&P; 500 rose 1.60, to 429.19, and the NYSE composite increased 0.86, to 236.16. All three indexes eclipsed all-time highs set yesterday.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining issues by about 4-to-3 on the NYSE. Given that it was the day before Thanksgiving, trading was heavy, with 208 million shares changing hands on the Big Board.
"Everybody seems to be getting optimistic about the economy, and that's what the market wants," said Sid Dorr, head of institutional equities at Charles Schwab & Co. in San Francisco.
The Commerce Department said the economy grew 3.9 percent in the third quarter, up from an originally reported 2.7 percent and the largest gain since the final quarter of 1988. The government reported that the number of Americans who filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell 12,000, to a seasonally adjusted 374,000, in the week that ended Nov. 14.
Two private groups released more good news on the economy. The University of Michigan reported that consumer confidence rose earlier this month, and the National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes rose 9.1 percent in October.
"The economy finally seems to be making some progress," said Michael Lenahan, head trader at James Capel Inc. "At the same time, interest rates are low, and that's really helping the stock market."
The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond is at 7.54 percent, down 22 basis points since Nov. 6.
Comptronix, the most active NASDAQ stock, fell $15.875, or 72 percent, to $6.125, on news that its board would investigate allegations that senior officers intentionally overstated profits.
Westinghouse Electric, the most active NYSE issue, rose $1.50, to $12.50, in response to a restructuring and management shift at the financially strapped company. An analyst at PaineWebber raised his rating on Westinghouse's stock to "attractive."
Glaxo Holdings declined 25 cents, to $24, after a decision by the European Patent Office in Munich to give SmithKline Beecham patent rights for its Kytril anti-nausea drug.
NetWorth Inc. surged 100 percent in its first day of trading, bid up by a stampede of investors who want to own shares of a company in the sizzling market for computer networking.