Dow closes above 25,000 for first time in history

NEW YORK, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The Dow Jones industrial average rose and closed above the 25,000 level for the first time on Thursday and other major indexes scaled new records, propelled by strong economic data both in the United States and abroad.

The 30-member blue-chip index crossed five 1,000-point marks in 2017 on the back of President Donald Trump's pro-growth agenda and solid corporate earnings.

It took less than a year for the Dow to add a 5,000-point milestone, which is the fastest since the index was created in May 1896.

Wall Street has started 2018 on a strong note. The benchmark S&P index closed above 2,700 for the first time on Wednesday and the Nasdaq settled above 7,000 a day earlier.

"We saw Apple doing well, and we're also seeing energy, which was a laggard last year, do well. The integrated names are gaining interest as oil prices are moving higher," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

Also, strong manufacturing and services sector data from the world's largest economies provided a bullish tone on Thursday, while other data showed U.S. private employers stepped up hiring in December. Friday will bring the key U.S. non-farm payrolls report.

"As long as you have economic growth and earnings moving higher, there's still a solid underpinning," Krosby said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 154.35 points, or 0.62 percent, to 25,077.03, the S&P 500 gained 11.73 points, or 0.43 percent, to 2,724.79 and the Nasdaq Composite added 11.83 points, or 0.17 percent, to 7,077.37.

The S&P energy index was up 0.5 percent on the day and 3.8 percent for the week so far. Financials led gains on the S&P 500 on Thursday, though, with Wells Fargo and JPMorgan up about 1.5 percent and Goldman Sachs up 1.3 percent.

Apple was up 0.5 percent.

On the downside, Victoria's Secret-owner L Brands slid 11.3 percent on disappointing quarterly earnings forecast.

Macy's shares fell 3.2 percent after reporting only modest growth in holiday sales and saying it would close stores and slash thousands of jobs this year.

Other department store operators including J.C. Penney Co Inc also tumbled.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.76-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.61-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

(Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Nick Zieminski)

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