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Dow Jones breaches 24,000 in rally

Wall Street finished November with a broad rally that gave the Dow Jones industrial average its biggest gain since March and pushed it past the 24,000 mark for the first time. 

Other market indicators also reached milestones on Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, which is widely followed by professional investors, had its biggest monthly gain since February.

Technology stocks were responsible for much of the gain, following a sharp pullback the day before.

Investors were encouraged by the latest batch of economic data pointing to a pickup in global and domestic demand. But the run-up in the market really kicked in after developments in Washington gave traders fresh optimism that the Republican-led effort to forge a sweeping tax cut bill will succeed.

"A parade of data have surprised to the upside and that's helped underpin the market's tone," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "But clearly the move toward tax reform, moving through the hurdles, has the market poised for a tax reform package to be legislated either at the end of this year or early next year."

The S&P 500 index climbed 21.51 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,647.58. The Dow jumped 331.67 points, or 1.4 percent, to 24,272.35. The average was briefly up more than 387 points. 

The Nasdaq added 49.58 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,873.97. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 1.84 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,544.14. 

Rising stocks outpaced declining ones on the New York Stock Exchange. The major stock indexes all ended November with gains. 

Stocks are being driven higher by a healthy economic backdrop and by the prospect that policy changes will fatten corporate profits. 

The global economy is gathering momentum and a falling dollar has made American-made products cheaper overseas, benefiting U.S. corporations. And recent economic data have given investors more reason to feel bullish. 

The Commerce Department reported this week that the U.S. economy grew at a 3.3 percent annual pace from July through September, the fastest in three years. Consumer spending and incomes posted healthy gains in October, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

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