* Indexes up: Dow 0.3 pct, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.1 pct
* Rally continues after Dow record on Tuesday
* Private sector employment gains by 198,000 in Feb
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, March 6 Wall Street resumed its climb
into uncharted territory on Wednesday, with the Dow setting
another intraday record as hiring by companies rose strongly
The stock market rally this year has been helped by signs of
a strengthening U.S. economy, continued support from the Federal
Reserve and fairly attractive equity valuations compared with
"Stocks don't seem expensive here," said Paul Hogan,
co-manager of the FAM Equity-Income Fund in Cobleskill, New
"All the headlines that were generated because of what
happened yesterday with the Dow hitting new all-time highs, that
makes more people take notice of the strength in the stock
market. It may be bringing people in off the sidelines."
The slowly healing labor market has been one of the weaker
spots of the recovery but data on Wednesday showed private
sector hiring was surprisingly strong in February as companies
added 198,000 employees.
It was an early look at the labor market two days ahead of
the closely watched non-farm payroll report from the government
on Friday, which is expected to show the economy created 160,000
jobs last month while the unemployment rate held at 7.9 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 45.61 points,
or 0.32 percent, to 14,299.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 2.90 points, or 0.19 percent, to 1,542.69. The
Nasdaq Composite Index added 2.50 points, or 0.08
percent, to 3,226.63.
On Tuesday, the Dow ended at 14,253.77, breaking through
October 2007's record close of 14,164.53. For the year, the Dow
is up 9 percent. Shortly after trading began on Wednesday, the
Dow punched through the previous session's intraday record,
trading as high as 14,320.65.
The S&P has gained 8 percent in the year so far and is less
than 2 percent below its record close. The larger S&P 1500
has already reached record highs, thanks to help from
The Nasdaq fared worse than the other two indexes on
Wednesday, weighed by Microsoft after the European
Union fined the company 561 million euros ($731 million) for
failing to offer users a choice of web browser. Microsoft was
down 1.5 percent at $27.90
Financial shares gained with the KBW bank index up
0.7 percent. Bank of America climbed 2.2 percent to
Staples tumbled 5.3 percent to $12.59 after
reporting lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and forecasting
weak earnings for the full year.