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Dow closes 330 points higher, topping 24,000 for first time

CNBC logo CNBC 11/30/2017 Fred Imbert

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Stocks ended sharply higher Thursday as the Senate got closer to voting on a bill aimed at overhauling the U.S. tax code.

The Dow closed 331 points higher, breaking above 24,000 for the first time. The S&P 500 also reached an all-time high, adding 0.82 percent. The Nasdaq rose 0.73 percent, recouping part of a 2 percent decline in the previous session.

The Senate is expected to vote later Thursday. If the upper chamber's bill passes, the House and Senate would have to work on a new bill they can send to President Donald Trump. The chances of the bill passing increased after Sen. John McCain said he would support it.

Tax reform was one of Trump's main talking points during his campaign last year. After he won, expectations of lower corporate taxes grew in the stock market, helping equities jump to record highs.

But Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, said lower corporate taxes may not help major as much as investors may think. "The effective tax rate among S&P 500 companies is already 26 percent. A 20 percent corporate tax rate would help, but it would not be as big a boon to large companies as it would be to small companies," he said.

The Russell 2000, which tracks small-cap stocks, hit a record high on Wednesday and is up more than 1.5 percent this week.

The major indexes were coming off a bifurcated session in which sharp gains in bank shares were offset by a rollover in tech stocks.

Tech was "being used as a source of funds for investors wishing to increase positions in sectors more likely to benefit from a potential tax reform," said Michael Shaoul, chairman and CEO of Marketfield Asset Management.

Wall Street also looked to Vienna as OPEC members and other oil-producing countries met to discuss whether to extend production cuts currently in place. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told CNBC that OPEC's consensus was "almost complete," adding he doesn't expect an exit from the production cuts soon.

OPEC and other countries had previously agreed to cut production by approximately 1.8 million barrels per day until March.

Crude prices fell 0.4 percent to $57.10 per barrel on Thursday.

In corporate news, Gap shares fell more than 1 percent after analysts at Citi downgraded the retailer to sell from neutral, citing valuation concerns following the stock's 40 percent jump in the past three months.

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