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Pre-market futures rose with a better-than-expected jobless claims report. The S&P 500 opened in the green at its intraday low and rallied to its 0.73% intraday high shortly before 11 AM. Chairman Bernanke's Senate testimony was consistent with his House session yesterday.

Probably the most remarkable theme was Congress's abdication of fiscal responsibility for the economy. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma remarked that "The kindergarten of Congress has let you down by not doing the things to create confidence in the business community."

The index closed up an even half percent, its second consecutive gain, which puts it at another all-time high. The 500 has posted 14 gains in the past 17 sessions. Yesterday's optimism was assisted by a good Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey.

Here's a 15-minute look at the week so far:

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Thursday's new high came on volume just a hair above its 50-day moving average.

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The S&P 500 is now up 18.45%.

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For a better sense of how these declines figure into a larger historical context, here's a long-term view of secular bull and bear markets in the S&P Composite since 1871.

Source: S&P 500 Snapshot: Another All-Time High