Dow closes above 21,000 as stocks soar after Trump speech

U.S. stock-market indexes closed at a new round of records Wednesday as investors welcomed President Donald Trumps conciliatory tone during his address to a joint session of Congress, despite a lack of details on his economic plans.

Some analysts suggested that the absence of protectionist comments as well as his overall tone that was perceived as presidential instilled confidence among investors, sending global equity markets higher. Stocks even rose slightly higher following the release of the Feds Beige Book, which pointed out that business optimism has cooled a bit since the election.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, +1.46%
broke through the 21,000 barrier, surging 303.31 points, or 1.5%, to close at a record 21,115.55, led by more than 2% gains in J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
JPM, +3.29%
, American Express Co.
AXP, +2.32%
Travelers Cos.
TRV, +2.25%
ExxonMobil Corp.
XOM, +2.09%
and Boeing Co.
BA, +2.04%
The index is up 6.9% year to date.

The S&P 500 index
SPX, +1.37%
rallied 32.32 points, or 1.4%, to close at a record 2,395.96 after reaching a new intraday high of 2,400.98, as nine of the 11 main sectors finished higher. Financials led gains, finishing up 2.8%, with energy stocks gaining 2.1%. Defensive sectors were the sole decliners, with utilities down 1% and real estate down 0.3%. The benchmark index is up 7% since the start of the year.

See: This stock-market rally isnt all about Trumps newfound tone

Both the Dow and the S&P had been absent one-day gains of 1% or more since Dec. 7, a total of 55 trading days, according to Dow Jones data.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP, +1.35%
surged 78.59 points, or 1.4% to close at a record 5,904.03. The tech-heavy index has outperformed other benchmarks year to date, rising 9.7%.

Small-caps also joined in with the Russell 2000 index
RUT, +1.94%
closing at a record, up 1.9% north of 1,413 by the close, for a 4.1% gain on the year.

The surge for stocks, on the heels of Trumps speech, also comes as the expectation for a rate increase by the Federal Reserve as early as mid-March have increased significantly. The probability for a March rate increase stands at 66%, up from a probability of 35% on Tuesday, according to CME Groups FedWatch tool.

Whats really changed on the economic front is tough to say, said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial, in an interview. But the Trump speech moved expectations higher. Now itll be a surprise if [the Fed doesnt] raise rates.

Read: This stock-market rally isnt all about Trumps newfound tone

Adding to that, on Tuesday, New York Fed President William Dudley said the case for a U.S. interest rate increase has become a lot more compelling.

The economy is doing well, as we can see from todays inflation and manufacturing numbers and any additional stimulus will put it into even a higher gear, and stock markets like that, said Mark Kepner, managing director of sales and trading at Themis Trading.

I think the Feds clear optimism about the economy, even when not factoring in a Trump boost, is feeding the positive sentiment in the markets at the moment, said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in emailed comments. Investors dont fear rate increases like they have in the past, instead its the pace of tightening that theyre focused on, and three hikes this year is clearly palatable, he added.

However some investors still see prices for stocks getting lofty after a string of records for U.S. equity benchmarks in 2017. Substantial gains in the markets have sent valuations to highest levels in more than a decade, with some analysts warning of potential pullbacks.

When markets are extended and overbought, they are vulnerable to any shocks that could trigger pullbacks or corrections, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist, at Prudential Financial.

The Dow industrials ran from clearing 20,000 for the first time to clearing 21,000 in 24 sessions, tying a record set in 1999 for the shortest 1,000-point gain. While the current jump is smaller on a percentage basis, its still psychologically compelling, especially when it took nearly two years for the Dow to reach 19,000 after it first passed 18,000, as markets were dealing with an earnings recession, Detrick said.

Now, earnings are picking up and were breaking out in quick fashion, said Detrick. The concern now is if we got to 22,000 quickly and hit a blowoff top. Some pullback is normal and we want to see a correction. No more than 5% to 7% would be perfectly normal considering the rally since the election.

Themiss Kepner also said that at some point markets will need specifics on the fiscal stimulus to justify current price-to-earnings ratios.

But for now, it seems that investors are content with the reasonable tone of the president, while impending rate hikes are seen in the context of an improving economy, Krosby said.

On the data front, a report on personal income and outlays showed that the cost of goods and services outpaced household income, with the year-over-year inflation rising to the highest level since 2012. Higher pace of inflation is another reason the Fed might be eager to go ahead with rate normalization sooner rather than later.

The manufacturing index from the Institute for Supply Management rose to 57.7% in February, its best level in more than two years. Meanwhile, construction spending declined 1% in January. Car sales for February were mixed with General Motors Co.
GM, +1.60%
sales rising and Ford Motor Co.
F, +1.28%
sales declining.

Trump delivered his address to Congress after the markets close Tuesday. In what many saw as a rather reserved speech, the U.S. president said he would push for around $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, and promised massive tax relief for the middle class and tax cuts for corporations. Otherwise, the speech was lacking in firm details about his economic plans.

Read: Trump asks leaders for unity over overhauling taxes and health care.

Analysts said investors will be looking for more hints to the Feds plans for interest rates from the central banks chairwoman, Janet Yellen, who will deliver a speech on Friday.

Stock movers: Best Buy Co.
BBY, -4.51%
shares finished down 4.5% Wednesday after the consumer electronics retailer reported fourth-quarter sales that missed expectations.

McDonalds Corp.s shares
MCD, +1.10%
which had been briefly halted earlier, gained 1.1% as the fast-food giant unveiled a global growth plan at a meeting for investors in Chicago on Wednesday.

Lowe’s Co.
LOW, +9.52%
shares led S&P 500 gainers, closing up 9.5% after the home-improvement retailers quarterly results topped Wall Street estimates.

Mylan NV
MYL, +7.22%
shares rallied 7.2% after the drugmakers quarterly results exceeded analyst expectations.

Read: President Trumps drug price threats have stopped working since he met with industry

Weight Watchers International Inc.
WTW, +27.52%
shares finished 27% higher after the weight loss company said its profit more than doubled in 2016.

Office Depot Inc.
ODP, +16.53%
shares surged nearly 17% after the home improvement store reported fourth-quarter earnings rose to $80 million from $15 million a year ago.

CarMax Inc.
KMX, +0.99%
shares declined earlier following a report that Kynikos Associatess Jim Chanos has taken a short position in the used car dealership, but closed up 1%.

Ross Stores Inc.
ROST, -2.60%
shares declined 2.6% after Citi downgraded the retailers stock to neutral from a buy.

Other markets: Asian markets
ADOW, +0.77%
finished mostly higher, with the Nikkei
NIK, +1.29%
rallying 1.4% after the Fed talk drove down the yen. European stocks
SXXP, +1.47%
also finished higher.

The ICE Dollar Index
DXY, +0.11%
which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of rivals, rose 0.6% to 101.74. The yield on the 10-year Treasurys
TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.19%
rose 6 basis points to 2.453%, up from Friday, when it hit a low 2.309%.

Gold prices
GCJ7, -0.25%
slipped 0.3% to settle at $1,250.00 an ounce, while oil prices
CLJ7, -0.17%
settled down 0.3% at $53.83 a barrel.

Barbara Kollmeyer in Madrid contributed to this article.

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