The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended Thursday’s trading session at a closing high, after hitting a new all-time high in intraday trading.

The Dow was up 0.5 percent to 15,548.54. The S&P 500 Retailing Industrial Group was down 0.3 percent to 838.17.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was testifying for the second day before Congress, and investors were pleased with his comments that there wasn’t any concrete timeline for when the Fed would begin pulling back on its bond purchases. On Wednesday, Bernanke in testimony to Congress emphasized the Fed’s flexibility and that any action by the Fed would depend on improvement in the economy.

Among the U.S. retail stocks, Aéropostale Inc. led the gainers, up 2.1 percent to $14.45, followed by Walgreen Co., which gained 1.6 percent to $50.54, and The Cato Corp., also up 1.6 percent to $27.36.

In Asia, which began the day’s trading sessions, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 1.3 percent to 14,808.50, while Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong fell 0.1 percent to 21,345,22.

European stock markets were up at the close of trading, buoyed by the rally in the U.S.

The FTSE MIB in Milan led the way, advancing 2.3 percent to 16,053.61. The CAC 40 in Paris rose 1.4 percent to 3,927.79, followed by the DAX in Frankfurt and the FTSE 100 in London, which were each up 1 percent to 8,337.09 to 6,634.36 respectively.

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