January 4, 2018 / 6:00 PM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-Dow tops 25,000 on strong private hiring, global growth hopes

* Private employers add 250,000 jobs in Dec vs est. 190,000

* Macy's fall after disappointing holiday sales; drag rivals

* Banks gain as strong data raises March rate hike odds

* Indexes up: Dow 0.54 pct, S&P 0.42 pct, Nasdaq 0.15 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Sruthi Shankar

Jan 4 (Reuters) - The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke above the 25,000 level for the first time on Thursday and other major indexes scaled new records, propelled by strong U.S. private jobs numbers that added to a stream of robust economic data from across the world.

The 30-member blue-chip index crossed five 1,000-point marks in 2017, on the back of President Donald Trump's pro-growth agenda and solid corporate earnings.

Wall Street carried the momentum into the new year, with the benchmark S&P index closing above 2,700 for the first time on Wednesday and the Nasdaq settling above 7,000 a day earlier.

"The point that people need to take is that the macro indicators are telling investors that world economies are doing really well," said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

"As the index (Dow) goes ever high in time, it is going to be less and less meaningful."

Strong manufacturing and services sector data from the world's largest economies helped global shares climb to new levels on Thursday.

A report showed U.S. private employers stepped up hiring in December and planned layoffs by American-based companies fell sharply, pointing to sustained labor market strength.

Private employers added 250,000 jobs in December, according to the ADP National Employment Report, above the 190,000 additions forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

Focus will shift to the more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report, which is expected on Friday.

At 12:32 p.m. ET (1732 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 133.39 points, or 0.54 percent, at 25,056.07 and the S&P 500 was up 11.31 points, or 0.42 percent, at 2,724.37. The Nasdaq Composite was up 10.41 points, or 0.15 percent, at 7,075.94.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by 1.4 percent gain in the financial index.

Wells Fargo and JPMorgan rose about 1.5 percent and Goldman Sachs 1.3 percent after the strong data raised the odds of a March rate hike.

Victoria's Secret-owner L Brands slid 12.5 percent on disappointing quarterly earnings forecast.

Macy's shares fell 7 percent after reporting only modest growth in holiday sales and said it would close stores and slash thousands of jobs this year.

Other department store operators including J.C. Penney Co Inc also tumbled.

Sprint fell about 5 percent after the wireless carrier appointed former Altice NV Chief Executive Michel Combes as chief financial officer.

Intel declined as much as 5 percent, adding to Wednesday's losses that was triggered by a report that its chips were vulnerable to being hacked.

Rival Advanced Micro Devices rose 5.4 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,729 to 1,087. On the Nasdaq, 1,648 issues rose and 1,264 fell.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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