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Dow Jones Industrial Average hits 17,000 for first time

The Dow Jones Industrial Average - a US stock index made up of some of the biggest global firms - has hit 17,000 for the first time.

On Thursday, investors pushed shares higher after a better-than-expected jobs report showed the US economy added 288,000 jobs in June.

Overall, low interest rates have led investors to pour money into stocks in an effort to make a profit.

That has pushed US indexes - including the S&P 500 - to new highs in 2014.

On Wednesday, the Dow closed at its 13th record for the year, and the S&P 500 hit its 24th closing high for 2014.

A string of positive economic news combined with increasing merger and acquisition activity has buoyed investor confidence on Wall Street.

Investors had been worried that rising stock prices could not be supported by actual underlying economic growth.

Thursday's positive jobs figure capped a week of good reports globally, including news that China's manufacturing activity hit a six-month high in June.

That has help lift stocks in the short term, even as US markets slow down for the 4th of July holiday.

Overall, investors have been pouring money into stocks over the past year and a half, partially as a result of the policies of the Federal Reserve.

The US central bank has taken extraordinary measures to keep interest rates low in an effort to encourage banks to lend and thus stimulate economic growth.

Low interest rates, however, have also meant that firms are less inclined to keep extra cash on hand where it is not earning money.

That has spurred increased merger and acquisition activity, with firms in the pharmaceutical, food processing, and technology industries all announcing strings of acquisitions in recent weeks.

Investors have also looked to the stock market to boost returns as they have looked beyond bonds.

Some have worried that in keeping rates so low, the Federal Reserve is encouraging a bubble in the stock market.

However on Wednesday, Fed chair Janet Yellen said in a speech in front of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the central bank would not raise rates in an effort to deter financial excesses.

"Efforts to promote financial stability through adjustments in interest rates would increase the volatility of inflation and employment," she said.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/