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S&P 500 closes above 1,700 points for first time

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— Auto companies reported healthy sales gains for July. Ford, Chrysler and Nissan each reported U.S. sales growth of 11 percent compared with the same month a year ago.

An index of transportation stocks also rose sharply. Many investors see that sector as a leading indicator for the economy since freight and shipping companies tend to get busier as the economy improves.

At a glance

Milestones for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index broke through 1,700 points Thursday for the first time.

It’s only been three months since the S&P 500 first closed above 1,600. The previous 100-point gain took much longer to achieve. The index first closed above 1,500 more than a decade ago, toward the end of the dot-com bubble in March 2000. The S&P then slumped twice before starting on its current bull run in March, 2009.

Here’s a look at the previous times that the S&P 500 index, a broad measure of large-company stocks, first closed above round-number levels, measured in increments of 100 points.

1,600 » May 3, 2013

1,500 » March 22, 2000

1,400 » July 9, 1999

1,300 » March 15, 1999

1,200 » December 21, 1998

1,100 » March 24, 1998

1,000 » February 2, 1998

900 » July 2, 1997

800 » February 12, 1997

700 » October 4, 1996

600 » November 17, 1995

500 » March 24, 1995

400 » December 26, 1991

300 » March 23, 1987

200 » November 21, 1985

100 » June 4, 1968

Source: S&P Dow Jones Indices

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The Dow Jones Transportation average jumped 208.26 points, or 3.2 percent, to 6,670.06, led by a surge in Con-way, a Michigan-based freight company that reported earnings Thursday that were far higher than investors expected. Con-Way rose $4.34, or 10.5 percent, to $45.79.

The price of crude oil rose $2.86, or 2.7 percent, to $107.89 a barrel. Gold slipped $1.80 to $1,311.20 an ounce. The dollar rose against the euro and the Japanese yen.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose sharply, to 2.72 percent from 2.58 percent late Wednesday. That means investors were selling U.S. government debt securities, which are seen as ultra-safe, in anticipation that the economy would pick up and as they moved money into higher-risk assets like stocks.

Among stocks making big moves:

—Sprouts Farmers Markets more than doubled on the company’s first day of trading, jumping $22.11 to $40.11 — another sign that investors are becoming more comfortable taking on risk.

—Yelp soared $9.70, or 23.2 percent, to $51.50. The consumer review website continued to lose money, but it sold more ads and drew more visitors.

—Dell rose 29 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $12.96. Its shareholders are scheduled to vote Friday on an offer by CEO and founder Michael Dell to buy the company.

—Exxon Mobil fell $1.02, or 1.1 percent, to $92.73, after reporting lower earnings as oil and gas production slipped. Profit margins on refining oil also fell.

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AP Markets Writer Steve Rothwell contributed to this story.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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