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Nasdaq tops 5,000, as stocks power to record highs

U.S. stocks climbed on Monday, lifting the Nasdaq Composite to its first close above 5,000 in nearly 15 years, with Apple pacing the rise that has the technology-laden index within reach of its dot.com-era record.

The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 also closed at record highs, climbing 156 points, or 0.9 percent, to 18,289 and 45 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,117, respectively.

Stocks rose after a government report showed that U.S. personal income in January rose 0.3 percent in January, although spending dipped.

"Today, it's about the consumer," David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial, told The Associated Press. "Consumers appear to be feeling a little bit better."

Excitement over new gear forthcoming gear from Apple (AAPL) also seems to be contributing to the bullish mood.

"The behemoth that is Apple is driving the bulk of the gains," said Paul Nolte, senior vice president and portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management, citing elevated expectations about the consumer technology giant, with investors anticipating its coming out with a watch next week.

The Nasdaq in January surged to multi-year highs while recording its best month since 2012, positioning it to within reach of its intra-day record of 5,132.52 hit on March 10, 2000. On Monday, it closed at 5,008.10, just 40 points from its record finish of 5,048.62 also hit on March 10, 2000.

But the Nasdaq's advance might not be a reason to break out the champagne.

"It means we've gone 15 years without a rate of return on the Nasdaq," Nolte told CBS MoneyWatch. "What is more meaningful is what your rates of return are, and we are now back to zero."

Comparing the Nasdaq as it is now to what it was 15 years ago is also akin to comparing apples to oranges."It is a very different index than it was 15 years ago, because you had so many of its components go belly up" after the tech bubble burst, Nolte said.

Apple currently makes up nearly 10 percent of the Nasdaq, while Microsoft represents almost 5 percent.

"Certainly in 2000 those were very different weights, and companies like Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (FB) didn't even exist, and those companies are in the top five of the index," said Nolte, who is containing his enthusiasm for when the Dow industrials cross 20,000.

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