NEW YORK — Investors stayed upbeat Friday, pushing U.S. stock indexes deeper into record territory.
Stocks were headed for a third straight close at all-time highs, led by financial companies.
Agilent Technologies was the biggest gainer in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. The company, which makes scientific instruments, jumped $4.22, or 8.3 percent, to $54.74, after reporting earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations.
The S&P 500 is on track for its sixth straight week of gains, part of an impressive rise this year. The index is up 25.6 percent so far, and if it ends 2013 with that gain, it would be the best performance in a decade.
The market's rise rests on a combination of factors. The Federal Reserve's has kept up its extraordinary efforts to pump up the economy. Earnings growth has stayed healthy. And the U.S. economy's uneven recovery has steadied, with recent reports showing surprisingly strong strength in hiring and growth. Despite the surge in stocks, their prices remain reasonable compared with their earnings
"It's bland, it's vanilla, but it's sweet," said John Manley, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo Fund Management. Stock valuations are "not cheap but, they're not prohibitive."
The S&P 500 added one points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,791 as of 12:03 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 39 points, or 0.3 percent, to 15,915. The Nasdaq composite rose less than a point to 3,973.
Six of the 10 industrial groups in the S&P 500 rose.
In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year note was unchanged at 2.70 percent from Thursday.
In commodities trading, the price of oil fell one cent to $93.75 a barrel. Gold was little changed at $1,287 an ounce.
Among other stocks making big moves, Exxon Mobil rose 98 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $94.20 after billionaire Warren Buffett's company disclosed late Thursday that it had taken a new stake in the oil company.