The Dow Jones Industrial Average passed 34,000 on Thursday, as stocks rallied to record highs on rosy reports of increased consumer spending, lower unemployment and increased corporate profits for the month of March.
The S&P 500-stock index closed 1% higher, at about 4,170, to beat a previous all-time high set on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also set a new record, up 305 points, or almost 1%, to close at 34,015. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite finished the trading day 1.3% higher.
Expectations are very high on Wall Street that the economy — and thus corporate profits — are in the midst of exploding out of the cavern created by the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to COVID-19 vaccinations and massive support from the U.S. government and Federal Reserve. Report after report on Thursday only bolstered those expectations.
“The stock market continues to validate the optimistic forecasts from last year, which predicted a strong economy that was driven by consumers emerging from their homes, emboldened by vaccinations or by a belief that the worst of Covid was behind us,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance, said in an email.
One report from the Commerce Department showed that U.S. retail sales jumped 9.8% in March from February, blowing past economists’ forecasts for 5.5% growth.