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S&P 500 hits another new high as J.C. Penney surges on better-than-expected results

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Stocks ended the session higher for the day, with the S&P 500 closing at a new all-time high. The Dow Industrials (^DJI) also gained 0.4%, the Nasdaq (^IXIC) edged 0.5% higher, and the broader S&P 500 (^GSPC) closed up 0.5% to finish at 1,854.29.

J.C. Penney (JCP) shares soared, closing up 25% after the retailer showed signs of life with better-than-expected holiday quarter results. The company also said it expects to have $2 billion in cash by the end of the year, which will allow it to keep its stores open and avoid the bankruptcy many have been predicting for the department store chain.

Tesla (TSLA) shares were flat for the day after the company said it is offering $1.6 billion in convertible senior notes in an underwritten registered public offering. The company plans to use the money to fund its "gigafactory" and the development of its "Gen III" mass-market vehicle. The company also revealed details on its plans for the new battery factory, saying the "gigafactory" would cost as much as $5 billion dollars and enable the company to sell as many as half a million cars a year. So far this year, shares of Tesla are up more than 70%.

Investors listened to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s testimony before the Senate Banking Committee today. She told the committee weather appears to be a factor in some of the weak economic data of late, but it is too soon to tell just how much of an impact this winter’s extreme weather has had on the economy.

Before the market open, the Commerce Department said orders for durable goods – everything from refrigerators to airplanes – declined in the month of January by 1.0%. That was smaller than the 2.0% decline economists were anticipating. While the durable goods report was a surprise to the upside, jobless claims jumped more than expected. According to the Labor Department, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose 14,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 348,000 in the week ended February 22nd.