Investor optimism in the Federal Reserve's economic outlook outweighed a slight decline in retail sales and an increase in unemployment claims. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Standard & Poor's 500 and the Nasdaq Composite all closed Thursday at their highest points since late 2008 after the Fed held a key interest rate at close to zero. However, retail sales disappointed with a 0.1% slip in July after economists predicted a 0.7% increase. Economists were also surprised by an increase in initial jobless claims. However, continuing claims declined, according to the Labor Department.

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