NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market held close to its all-time high on Thursday amid optimism that the economy is set to strengthen. Stocks are on course for their best weekly gain in seven weeks after investors got more encouraging news on the economy. A survey showed that U.S. service firms increased their business more quickly last month as new orders rose. Separate reports earlier in the week had shown manufacturing strengthening, hiring picking up, and sales of cars and trucks rising.
The news came ahead of the government’s monthly jobs report, to be published Friday. Economists are forecasting that the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in March, according to FactSet. That would be the biggest gain in hiring since November.