NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Investors are wary after the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed at the highest levels in nearly a year. Reports on housing and jobs underpins support.
Stocks struggled to move higher Thursday morning, as enthusiasm over upbeat housing and jobs reports waned and the major gauges continued to flirt with one-year highs.
The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) edged up 17 points, or 0.2%, after ending the previous session at its highest point since Oct. 6, 2008. The S&P 500 (SPX) index gained about 2 points, after ending the previous session at its highest point since Oct. 3 of last year. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) was flat after closing at its highest point since Sept. 26, 2008.
U.S. stocks spiked to one-year highs Wednesday amid continued economic optimism. Thursday brought new reports supporting hopes that a recovery is underway, but investors weren't impressed.
A combination of improving economic news and fiscal and monetary stimulus has helped boost stocks over the last six months. Since bottoming at a 12-year low in March, the Dow has gained 47% and the S&P 500 has gained 55%. Since bottoming at a 6-year low, the Nasdaq has gained 65%.
But this is cause for concern rather than celebration, said Philip Isherwood, equities strategist at Evolution Securities in London. He said the markets are being artificially inflated by the massive stimulus from the U.S. and other governments, "rather than realistically reflecting fundamentals."
"At some point you'd expect markets to reconnect with a more muted reality, but short term that isn't the case," said Isherwood. "The market doesn't wait for the economy and it doesn't wait for investors, either."
There could be some volatility ahead of Friday, the day of quadruple witching, when contracts expire on stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures.