Stocks strengthened in quiet pre-holiday trading as a series of strong earnings reports lifted the market, although gains were tempered by mixed economic news.
Among Dow components, Travelers, IBM and AT&T gained, while Verizon and General Electric fell.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also rose. The CBOE Volatility Indexfell below 15, nearing lows from June 2007.
Most key S&P 500 sectors gained, led by technology and materials.
"After a bit of a rough start with names like Bank America , Google and Alcoa , companies are starting to come through with solid reports, as investors had expected," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial.
More companies have been beating on the top line instead of the bottom, indicating they are still able to increase their profit margins, Sheldon said.
"There's a large debate going on about how much higher margins can go to help boost profits since we’re already at or near record levels," he added. "I think as we go along for the next couple quarters and into 2012 especially, corporate earnings will be driven by revenue growth as opposed to increases in margins."
The tech rally continued after the market closed when Appledelivered results powered by sales of iPhones and Macs that easily topped what analysts had expected.
On Thursday, Travelers soared after reporting a 30 percent jump in profitsthanks to a gain in investment income. Net profit rose to $839 million, or $1.92 a share from $647 million, or $1.25 a share, a year earlier. The insurer raised its dividend 14 percent to 41 cents a share.
Morgan Stanley jumped despite a drop in profit as its results beat expectations.
General Electric slipped despite delivering first-quarter earnings above analyst forecasts and raising its quarterly dividend by 1 cent to 15 cents, its third hike since July. The diversified manufacturer benefited from a boost in business spending. GE is a minority shareholder in CNBC.
McDonald's fell despite beating expectations on strong sales throughout all regions.
And Verizon sank despite reporting strong growth, helped by sales of the iPhone as profits fell for the wireless phone company.