U.S. stocks advanced on Thursday, with each of the major U.S. indexes notching record highs, after a batch of economic data suggested the economy was picking up speed. The ADP private sector employment report showed 253,000 jobs were added in May, well above the 185,000 estimated by economists polled by Reuters.
The report could signal a strong government payrolls report on Friday that includes hiring in both public and private sectors, which would cement expectations for an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in two weeks.
"More than anything it is employment data driven, it was such a resounding uptick over expectations," said Paul Springmeyer, investment managing director at the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
"It bodes well for the Fed; certainly the numbers are very, very high in terms of the likelihood of that (hike) coming through for June."
Forecasts are for 185,000 nonfarm jobs created in May. In addition to the ADP data, a separate report showed factory activity ticked up in May after two straight months of slowing.
San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said on Wednesday that while he sees three interest rate hikes this year as his baseline scenario, four rate increases would also be appropriate if the economy got an unexpected boost.
Fed Governor Jerome Powell, an influential policymaker, told CNBC that he expects three rate hikes this year. Forecasts from Fed officials suggest that a median of two more hikes are planned before the end of the year.
Traders are currently pricing in an 88.9-percent chance of a quarter-percentage-point rate hike at the U.S. central bank's June 13-14 meeting, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 135.53 points, or 0.65 percent, to end at 21,144.18, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 18.26 points, or 0.76 percent, to 2,430.06 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 48.31 points, or 0.78 percent, to 6,246.83.