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US stocks: Dow closes above 15,000 for first time, S&P hits another record high

US stocks were higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 15,000 for the first time, and the S&P 500 entering bull market territory.

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A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange wears a hat embroidered with 15,000 at the end of trading on May 7, 2013, after the Dow closed above 15,000 for the first time ever. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 15,000 for the first time ever Tuesday as central bank stimulus programs, positive corporate news and upbeat economic data fueled optimism into the market.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index also entered bull market territory after closing at a record high for the fourth straight session. According to CNBC, the S&P Index has climbed 20 percent from its lows in mid-November.

At the closing bell, the Dow was up 87.01 points, or 0.6 percent, to 15,055.90 and the S&P was 0.5 percent higher at 1,625.96.

“This is a QE-fueled market,” said Steven Bulko of Lombard Odier Investment Management to Bloomberg, in reference to the Federal Reserve’s $85 billion a month asset-buying program.

“You’re just not seeing sales based on allocation into any asset class because of the relative unattractiveness of everyone other than equities. That’s putting in place a firm bid to the equities market.”

Caterpillar posted the biggest percentage increase among Dow stocks, rising 2.5 percent to $89.79.

The construction and mining equipment giant recently announced a $1 billion accelerated repurchase program – its first share buyback in four years – following a disappointing first-quarter earnings report.

On the economic front, investors were still digesting Friday’s unexpectedly strong US jobs report, which showed employers added 165,000 workers in April – which was above forecasts – and the jobless rate fell to a four year-low of 7.5 percent. 

Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, German factory orders in March exceeded expectations, increasing a seasonally adjusted 2.2 percent from February, compared with economists' expectations for a 0.5 percent drop.