The gains were broad. All 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 rose, led by telecommunications with an increase of 1 percent.
Earnings for companies in the S&P 500 index are expected to grow 4.5 percent in the third quarter over the same period a year ago, according to S&P Capital IQ, a research firm. While respectable, that rate of growth is less than half what was expected at the start of the year.
Some market watchers say even that profit growth may not last. They note that much of it is coming from cutting expenses, not increasing revenue, as the global economy remains sluggish.
“The question is: What is the outlook for earnings?” Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities, said. “There is only so much you can do with cost-cutting.”
The Dow rose 61.07 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 15,570.28. The S&P 500 rose 7.70 points, 0.4 percent, to 1,759.77. The S&P also closed at a record high Tuesday. The Nasdaq composite rose 14.40 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,943.36. That was its highest close since September 2000.
Major U.S. stock indexes have soared this year. The S&P 500 is up 23 percent, the Nasdaq composite 31 percent. In addition to higher earnings, investors have been encouraged by continued economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve.