NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks closed at multi-year highs, as investors weighed a small pullback in oil prices and improving consumer confidence against a worse-than-expected drop in durable goods orders.
The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) closed above 13,000 for the first time since May 19, 2008, after narrowly missing that finish line for the past several trading days. The DJIA added 24 points, or 0.2%. While the 13,000 level is not considered technically significant, it is a psychological milestone.
The S&P 500 (SPX) added 5 points, or 0.3%, and the Nasdaq (COMP) rose 21 points, or 0.7%. Shares of Nasdaq-listed Apple hit record highs too. Though modest, the gains were enough to push the S&P 500 to its highest levels since June 2008. The Nasdaq is trading at its highest point since December 2000.
Crude futures eased for a second straight day Tuesday, pushing oil prices down more than $2. That dampened worries that higher gas prices could cause the economic recovery to stall by forcing consumers to change their spending habits.
Investors have been keeping a close watch on the oil market, where crude futures rose almost 9% in seven consecutive days, settling at a nine-month high above $109 a barrel Friday, amid concerns about increased tensions between Iran and Western powers.
The rise in oil prices has translated into higher gas prices, with the national average rising for 21 straight days.
Stocks also picked up some momentum after the Conference Board reported a big spike in consumer sentiment in February, with the index now at a 1-year high.
However, the optimism was hit by a 4% plunge in durable goods orders, the biggest drop in three years.
"Unquestionably, it [the durables orders] looks bad, but the context is important," noted Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. "We see no evidence of underlying slowing in the industrial economy, so we look for a rebound in February and the re-emergence of the upward trend over the next couple of months."
On Monday, U.S. stocks ended little changed, as investors weighed an upbeat housing report against worries about the debt crisis in Europe and rising gas prices.