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Dow climbs above 21,000 points as stocks jump

Dow climbs above 21,000 points as stocks jump
Trader Peter Tuchman wears a "Dow 21,000" hat as he works Wednesday on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Investors bet big on U.S. stocks Wednesday, giving the market its biggest single-day gain in nearly four months and pushing the major indexes to record highs.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose above 21,000 points for the first time.

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Banks were the biggest gainers amid heightened expectations that an improving economy will lead to higher interest rates. Energy stocks also notched big gains. Utilities and real estate stocks lagged. The dollar strengthened against major currencies. Bond prices fell, as did the prices of crude oil and gold.

Optimism over corporate tax cuts, deregulation and other business-friendly policy proposals reiterated by President Trump during a speech before Congress helped fuel the rally. Growing speculation that the Federal Reserve may soon raise interest rates again also helped put traders in a buying mood.

"We're seeing a strong risk-on rally in the face of rising expectations of Fed action as early as March based on a belief there will be a pro-growth agenda that gets enacted," said Bill Northey, chief investment officer of the Private Client Group at U.S. Bank. "It's been what I would characterize as a bit of market euphoria on the back of the president's address to the joint session of Congress last night."

The Dow jumped 303.31 points, or 1.5%, to 21,115.55. At one point the 30-company average was up more than 356 points. The Dow hadn't been up more than 300 points in one day since November.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 32.32 points, or 1.4%, to 2,395.96. That's the biggest single-day gain since early November for the index, which is the benchmark favored by professional investors.

The Nasdaq composite index advanced 78.59 points, or 1.4%, to 5,904.03. Small-company stocks continued to outpace the rest of the market, a bullish signal on the economy. The Russell 2000 index rose 26.95 points, or 1.9%, to 1,413.64.

All four indexes closed at new all-time highs. Each had set new highs last month.

Bond prices fell and yields rose after a key Federal Reserve official, New York Fed President William Dudley, said the case for raising interest rates had gotten stronger. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.46% from Tuesday's 2.40%.

Strong gains in major global stock indexes overnight and into early Wednesday hinted at the possibility of another milestone day for Wall Street.

Better-than-expected company earnings and outlooks from Lowe's, Big 5 Sporting Goods and other companies also helped give the market a boost.

But it is the prospect of more profitable days ahead for corporate America that encouraged investors to pile into stocks.

"The market has shifted from being worried about lower growth for longer, to expecting more growth sooner rather than later," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Cornerstone Financial Partners.

Financials led all other sectors in the S&P 500, climbing 2.8%. The sector is up 8.1% this year. JPMorgan Chase climbed 3.3% on Wednesday to $93.60. Goldman Sachs rose 1.9% to $252.71.

Traders bid up shares in several companies that reported strong quarterly results or outlooks.

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Lowe's climbed 9.5% to $81.45. Big 5 Sporting Goods leaped 13% to $15.20.

Builders FirstSource, a maker of building materials, jumped 12.4% to $14.54, boosted by rising lumber prices.

Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises was among the biggest laggards. The energy-sector supply company sank 37.4% to $10.33 after its latest quarterly report card and guidance fell short of analysts' expectations.

Etsy slumped 11.8% to $10.69 after the online crafts marketplace issued guidance that fell short of Wall Street's expectations.

Impax Laboratories dived 34.7% to $9.30 after the Hayward, Calif., maker of generic drugs' fourth-quarter results suffered because of lower prices and tough competition for key products.

Markets overseas posted solid gains. Germany's DAX rose 2%, France's CAC 40 gained 2.1% and Britain's FTSE 100 picked up 1.6%. Earlier in Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.4% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.2%.

U.S. crude fell 18 cents to $53.83 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 15 cents to $56.36 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 5 cents, or 3%, to $1.68 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.62 a gallon. Natural gas rose 3 cents to $2.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The dollar rose to 113.71 yen from 112.17 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0544 from $1.0597.

The price of gold fell $3.90 to $1,250 an ounce. Silver rose 2 cents to $18.44 an ounce. Copper rose 2 cents to $2.73 a pound.

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UPDATES:

2:35 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analysis.

This article was originally published at 8:05 a.m.

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