The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed at another record high on Wednesday as signs of steady private-sector hiring indicated that the economy was slowly building momentum after a winter-related pullback.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 40 points or 0.24%, to end at 16,573. The S&P 500 gained five points or 0.29%, to finish at 1,891, a record closing high. The S&P 500 also hit an intraday record high of 1,893. The Nasdaq Composite added eight points or 0.20%, to close at 4,276.

Data from payrolls process or ADP showed US private-sector employers added 191,000 workers in March, slightly less than the 195,000 forecast, while gains in the previous month were revised to 178,000 from a previously reported 139,000, signaling that a winter-related impact on job growth earlier this year was easing.

Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods surged 1.6% in February, the biggest increase since September and above a 1.2% estimate, the Commerce Department said.

January's durable goods orders were revised to show a larger drop of 1.0% instead of the previously reported decline of 0.7%.

The consumer discretionary sector led the rally yesterday. Shares of MannKind Corp (MNKD.O) soared 73.9% after the US health advisers recommended approval of the company's inhaled diabetes drug on Tuesday.

Among the day's decliners, fertiliser company Agrium Inc (AGU.TO) said a late start to spring and railroad-related backlogs will result in first-quarter earnings per share just above breakeven. Its shares lost 1.4%.

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) said flight cancellations reduced its March quarter profit by $55 million. Shares dipped 0.1%.

Apollo Education Group Inc (APOL.O) tumbled 8.8% after the company reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue.

DFC Global Corp (DLLR.O) gained 5.2% after the pawn and payday lender said it would be acquired by private equity firm Lone Star Funds for about $1.3 billion, including debt.

In Asia, shares gained on Thursday after data showed US companies added workers and China outlined economic stimulus plans.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.2% to 139 as of 11:06 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index rose 0.4%, poised for a ninth consecutive daily advance, its longest winning streak in three years.

South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 0.4%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.4%. China’s Shanghai Composite Index added less than 0.1%.