The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500, rising for the fifth session out of the past six, again set record high closings after the Labor Department said first-time benefit claims dropped by 24,000 to 334,000. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve, meanwhile, said manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic states rose to the highest level of activity since March 2011.
The DJIA added 78.02 points or 0.5 percent to 15,548.54. The Standard & Poor's 500 added 8.46 points, 0.5 percent, to 1,689.37. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index gained 1.28 points or 0.04 percent to 3,611.28.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,070 stocks advanced and 979 declined on a volume of 3.4 billion shares traded.
The Nikkei 225 index in Japan added 1.32 percent or 193.46 points to 14,808.50. In Britain, the FTSE 100 added 0.95 percent or 62.43 points to 6,634.36.
The 10-year U.S. treasury note fell 11/32 to yield 2.535 percent.
Gold added 0.4 percent or $5.10 to $1,283.90 per troy ounce. Silver shed 9 cents to $19.33 per ounce, off 0.46 percent.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil added $1.486 in after-hours trading to reach $107.83 per barrel.
The euro rose to $1.3109 against the dollar. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 100.48 yen.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, December corn dropped 2 3/4 cents to $4.99 1/4, November soybeans dropped 17 1/4 cents to $12.66 1/4 and September wheat was off 5 cents to settle at $6.60.