Another all-time high for the Dow.
First the scoreboard:
Dow: 14,329, +33.2 pts, +0.2 percent
S&P 500: 1,544, +2.8 pts, +0.1 percent
NASDAQ: 3,232, +9.7 pts, +0.3 percent
And now the top stories:
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at yet another all-time high today. The S&P 500, however, still has a ways to go before it gets to its all-time high of 1,565.
- Initial jobless claims fell to a 6-month low of 340k from last week's reading of 344k. Economists were looking for this number to climb to 355k.
- Some of the recent jobless claims reports have been the target of criticism because numbers from big states were getting estimated. Today's report was great because it was "clean." "The Labor Department noted that no states were estimated during the latest week and that there was nothing out of the ordinary behind the numbers, furthering our belief that this week’s data point suggests a more positive trend on the layoff side of the equation," said TD Securities' Gennadiy Goldberg.
- All of this adds to optimism that tomorrow's official jobs report will be a good one. Economists forecast that U.S. companies added 165k payrolls in February, up from 157k in January.
- In another encouraging sign for the economy, the American consumer appears to be embracing leverage again. Total consumer credit outstanding jumped by $16.15 billion in January, which was ahead of expectations for growth of $14.7 billion. This is a sign of consumer confidence. However, some don't like the idea that consumers are taking on more risk.
- "As the Dow surges to all time highs it feels eerily similar to the prior mid-2007 peak," warns Societe Generale strategist Albert Edwards. "Exactly the same jitters abound of a bond bear market and true to form Ben Bernanke is making the same complacent comments."
- Others, like Richard Bernstein, are more optimistic. "Bull markets are typically characterized by fear and indecision," wrote Bernstein in a note. "This cycle has been no different from that historical norm. We think investors need to realize that this cycle’s concerns are not unique, and are similar to the fears during the 1980s bull market."
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