The Dow Jones industrial average, up 206 Thursday, is near its all-time high.
Specialist David Pologruto works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke holds a news conference in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Bernanke said the Federal Reserve does not have a specific economic target for its new U.S. stimulus program and will keep buying bonds until it sees more jobs, lower unemployment and stronger growth.
NEW YORK - The stock market staged a big rally Thursday after investors got the aggressive economic help they wanted from the Federal Reserve.
The Dow Jones industrial average spiked more than 200 points and cleared 13,500 for the first time since the beginning of the Great Recession. The average is within 625 points of its all-time high.
The Fed said it would buy $40 billion of mortgage securities a month until the economy improves. It left open the possibilities of buying other assets and of buying long after the recovery picks up.
The Dow closed up 206.51 points, the seventh-biggest gain this year, at 13,539.86, its highest close since the last days of December 2007, the first month of the recession.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 23.43 points at 1,459.99, also its highest since December 2007. The Nasdaq composite index, which has been trading at its highest levels since 2000, was up 41.52 at 3,155.83.
The stock market had already enjoyed a summer rally, in part because investors were betting on more Fed action. The Dow has climbed more than 1,100 points since the start of June.
Still, stocks spiked Thursday in industries across the economy. Materials companies, which tend to do well when the economy picks up, enjoyed the biggest gain -- 2.6 percent as a group. Bank stocks also surged.
Among stocks making moves, Pall Corp. rose $4.63, or 8 percent, to $62.80. The company, which makes filtration equipment, posted net income that beat Wall Street predictions.
Apple climbed $13.19, or 2 percent, to $682.98. On Wednesday, the company unveiled an iPhone with a bigger screen and faster download speeds.
On Wednesday, the Dow rose to a four-year high after Germany's highest court rejected calls to block the creation of Europe's rescue fund for indebted governments.
The Fed action combined with the Middle East turmoil pushed crude prices up to above $98 a barrel of the first time in more than four months. Oil rose $1.30 to close at $98.31 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
There were nearly four stocks rising for every one falling. Volume was high, 4.5 billion shares.