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US Dow Jones Stock Index Sets Record High Close

The Dow Jones Industrial Average set a record Wednesday, closing above 12,500 for the first time.

The U.S. index of blue-chip stocks finished the trading day Wednesday at 12,511 after gaining 103 points, about eight-tenths of a percent.

Analysts attribute the gains in part to positive reports from the U.S. housing sector and the auto industry. A Commerce Department report earlier in the day showed unexpected growth of new home sales. Shares in Toyota and Ford made sharp gains after a meeting between top executives of the two carmakers sparked investors' hope for a potential alliance of the companies.

In other U.S. market news Wednesday, the S&P 500 gained 10 points to finish at 1,427. The NASDAQ rose 18 points to complete the day's trading at 2,431.