By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Dow Jones transportation average <.DJT> hit a record high close, led by increases in shares of Norfolk Southern <NSC.N>, Union Pacific <UNP.N> and FedEx Corp <FDX.N>, giving some investors hope the stock market is poised for further gains.
The transportation average ended at 9,371.61, up 2.5 percent, surpassing its previous record of 9,217.44 set on Dec. 29, 2014. It also set an intraday record high during the session.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI>, which has been setting record highs recently, closed at a fresh high on Wednesday as stocks continued a rally that began with Donald Trump's win in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.
Market watchers who look for parallels in the performance of both indices could see the transports reclaiming a closing high as a bullish sign that the market's "Dow Theory" is in play, prompting investors to push the stock market even higher.
"The stage has been set to continue this move," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.
"You're going to have these (software) programs that are now going to say 'Dow Theory' has been confirmed and they then initiate buy orders, which creates more fuel for the fire" for the broader market, he added.
Stocks have risen in part because of Trump's plans to stimulate the economy with infrastructure spending and financial deregulation, and transports have benefited from that optimism.
The move in transports underscored hopes that U.S. economic growth will accelerate, said Marc Pado, president at DowBull.com, a site focusing on U.S. equities.
"A long-term sustained rally has to be followed up with earnings and growth," Pado said.
That will boost demand for rail, trucking and other transportation services to bring goods and services to market, Pado said.
Some analysts have noted that the rally in the transports has lagged the increase in the Dow industrials.
"You have to be a little bit cautious because we have gone straight up, with no pullback," said Polcari.
Among stocks giving the transportation average its biggest boost on Wednesday were railroads Norfolk Southern, up 3.3 percent, and Union Pacific, which rose 3.1 percent; as well as delivery firm FedEx, which advanced 1.7 percent.
(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chris Reese)