New York: US stocks ended higher on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 24,000 points for the first time ever, as investors were optimistic about the prospects for a tax reform plan.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 331.67 points, or 1.39 per cent, to 24,272.35. The S&P 500 rose 21.51 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 2,647.58, Xinhua news agency reported. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 49.58 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 6,873.97.

Wall Street awaited a Senate vote on tax reform later on Thursday. The US Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday approved the Republican tax bill to overhaul the US tax code, sending it to the Senate floor for a vote.

US equities have posted solid gains and notched record highs several times since the Election Day, partially boosted by expectations of lower corporate taxes. The Russell 2000, which tracks small-cap stocks, also hit a record high on Thursday.

Meanwhile, investors also cheered on the country's strong economic data. US real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2017, according to the "second" estimate released by the Commence Department on Wednesday.

The strong economic growth is likely to bolster market expectations for another rate hike by the Fed in December. US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday that it is appropriate for the central bank to continue gradual interest rate hikes on the expectation that the economy and job market would remain strong.

IANS