NEW YORK (AP) _ Stock prices were making a strong advance today, and the market's best- known index flirted with its highest closing level of the year.

Five minutes before the close, the Dow Jones average of 30 industrials was up 16.25 at 2,182.68.

That was just a shade below the Dow Jones industrial average's highest close this year of 2,183.50 on Oct. 21.

Advancing issues outpaced losers by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 among issues listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with 945 up, 496 down and 541 unchanged.