But it was an otherwise ho-hum trading day as volume stayed low and conviction remained weak.
Market volume has been anemic for weeks, and some expect trading to stay that way for some time.
"Many people have observed the lowly volumes accompanying the latest run-up in the equity markets," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak in New York. "Times have changed and participation is simply lower."
Of the 10 Standard & Poor's 500 sectors, only utilities posted negative numbers for the day, and even then only slightly. Financials gained 1.8 percent while industrials rose 1.2 percent.
Economic news helped set the tone, as the government said weekly jobless claims regained a four-year low while producer prices rose 0.4 percent, boosted primarily from an energy price increase. New York manufacturing rose unexpectedly, though that survey also showed prices pressures building.
Also, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's business activity indexrose for a fifth month in a row to 12.5 from 10.2 in February, topping economists' expectations of 12.0, though new orders slowed.
Traders were hoping to push the market to its sixth consecutive daily gain, though light trading volumes and tight ranges suggest a more apprehensive market mood.
"Stocks are overbought, but the market’s still bullish and money is still flowing out of debt securities and into equities, so it is improper to be bearish, but it is difficult being bullish," said Dennis Gartman, hedge fund manager and author of The Gartman Letter. "Thus the sidelines seem enticing and so we’ve made our way there, likely to remain for some while longer."
Elsewhere on the major indexes, Bank of America helped pace a small field of Dow gainers as it passed the $9 mark for the first time since August. BofA led a slew of big banks higher, also including Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.
Cisco, which has reached a dealto buy London-based NDS for $5 billion, led bluechips in red numbers.
Transports , though, far outpaced the Dow 30, gaining about 3 percent in the morning session. Market watchers consider transportation stocks a reliable barometer of economic activity and a key component in Dow Theory to confirm a rally.
Advanced Micro Devices , bolstered by a "buy" rating from Jefferies, led gainers on the S&P 500 while Assurant was the index's biggest loser.