U.S. stocks surge; Dow marks first time above 21,000 points

Stocks made gains as investors expect rise in interest rates

(AP) – Major U.S. stock indexes surged in late-afternoon trading Wednesday, on course to set new highs after pushing the Dow Jones industrial average above 21,000 points for the first time. Investor optimism over corporate tax cuts and other policy proposals reiterated by President Donald Trump during a speech before Congress drove the rally. Banks were the biggest gainers amid heightened expectations that an improving economy will lead to higher interest rates.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow jumped 327 points, or 1.6 percent, to 21,139 as of 3:36 p.m. Eastern Time. The 30-company average hasn’t been up more than 300 points in one day since November. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 34 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,398. The Nasdaq composite index added 79 points, or 1.4 percent, to 5,904. Small-company stocks continued to outpace the rest of the market, a bullish signal on the economy. The Russell 2000 index rose 27 points, or 2 percent, to 1,414.

THE QUOTE: “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,” said Bill Northey, chief investment officer of the Private Client Group at U.S. Bank.

TRUMP SPEECH: In his speech, Trump struck a less confrontational tone than usual and steered away from dramatically negative descriptions of the state of the U.S. economy. He also reaffirmed his pledges to reform taxes, slash red tape and ramp up spending on defense and infrastructure projects. The promises have helped send U.S. stock benchmarks to records, but Trump offered little by way of detail.

BANK BOOST: Investors bid up bank shares in anticipation that interest rates will rise. JPMorgan Chase climbed $3.19, or 3.5 percent, to $93.81. Goldman Sachs rose $5.52, or 2.2 percent, to $253.58. Financials led all other sectors in the S&P 500, climbing 3.2 percent. The sector is up 8.3 percent this year.

LUMBER JACKED: Builders FirstSource, a maker of building materials, jumped 12.7 percent, getting a boost from rising lumber prices. The stock gained $1.64 to $14.58.

BUILD IT: Lowe’s climbed 9.4 percent after the home-improvement retailer’s latest quarterly earnings and outlook beat Wall Street’s forecasts. The stock added $6.99 to $81.36.

PUMPED: Big 5 Sporting Goods gained 14.1 percent after the athletic gear retailer delivered strong quarterly results. Its shares rose $1.90 to $15.35.

DISAPPOINTING RESULTS: Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises sank 38.4 percent after the energy sector supply company’s latest quarterly report card and guidance fell short of financial analysts’ expectations. The stock lost $6.34 to $10.16.

SALES SLUMP: Best Buy fell 4.6 percent after the consumer electronics chain reported weak sales and issued an outlook that failed to impress financial analysts. The stock slid $2.05 to $42.09.

PIN THIS: Etsy slumped 13.3 percent after the online crafts marketplace issued guidance that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. The stock shed $1.61 to $10.51.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 2 percent, while France’s CAC 40 gained 2.1 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 picked up 1.6 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.4 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.2 percent. South Korea’s markets were closed for a holiday.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude veered lower after heading higher earlier in the day. It fell 18 cents to close at $53.83 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, lost 15 cents to close at $56.36 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline shed 5 cents, or 3 percent, to close at $1.68 a gallon, while heating oil slid 2 cents to $1.62 a gallon. Natural gas futures rose 3 cents to close at $2.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.

TREASURY YIELDS: 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 percent from 2.40 percent late Tuesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.71 yen from Tuesday’s 112.17 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0544 from $1.0597.

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

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