Stocks Retreat After Dow Crosses 26000 Milestone

By Corrie Driebusch, Michael Wursthorn and David Hodari Features Dow Jones Newswires

Dow industrials briefly cross 26000

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-- Dollar rebounds from three-year low

-- Stocks in Europe rise

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged above 26000 for the first time Tuesday but gave up those gains as shares of energy companies slid along with oil prices.

The blue-chip index crossed the latest 1000-point milestone soon after the opening bell and rose as much as 283 points, but it later turned lower. Still, the Dow's climb to 26000 has been fast. It closed above 25000 seven trading sessions ago, and, if it reaches the milestone Tuesday, it would be the fastest 1000-point leap in its 120-year history.

The historic rise builds on the Dow's 25% gain last year and its seemingly unstoppable climb to start 2018. The rally began in late 2016 as a bet on infrastructure spending, deregulation and tax cuts, but spent 2017 rising on the back of strong corporate earnings growth.

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The start of the fourth-quarter reporting season, which many money managers expect will again exceed analyst expectations, has the potential to catapult the stock market further, some fund managers say.

They added they will be focusing most on what executives say they expect for 2018, particularly following the passage of the Republican tax overhaul.

"We have a high level of confidence in fourth-quarter earnings numbers," said Tom Wright, director of equities trading at JMP Securities. "But there's an even higher level of optimism around what forward guidance will be now that we have a new corporate tax structure."

The Dow industrials slipped 10 points, or less than 0.1%, to 25793, while the S&P 500 declined 0.4%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.5%.

Supporting the blue-chip index, UnitedHealth Group rose 1.9% after the health insurer beat analyst estimates and raised its guidance.

Merck, another Dow component, added 5.8% after the drugmaker said a combination of its Keytruda treatment with chemotherapy extended survival of patients with lung cancer.

Meanwhile, shares of energy companies declined, as oil prices, which had been rallying recently, slid. Energy firms in the S&P 500 fell 1.2%, making them the broad index's biggest decliner.

While some investors continue to harbor concerns over whether stocks have grown too rich, several say they have been hard pressed to find signs the long-running rally is reaching its end.

The monthly unemployment rate has held at a 17-year low since October, while gross domestic product, a broad measure of goods and services produced across the U.S., has been expanding at a rate of more than 3% in recent months.

The tax cuts President Donald Trump signed into law in December are expected to push U.S. economic growth higher, keep the jobless rate low and support further stock gains, according to several analysts.

"There is an awful lot of reasons to be optimistic," said Cooper Abbott, president and chairman of Carillon Tower Advisers, a $64 billion asset-management firm. "We're waiting for the shoe to fall in terms of a crash, but this is a resilient market."

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.%, while shares in Asia mostly rose.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 1.8% higher, hitting a fresh record.

Japanese stocks rebounded from Monday's selloff, with the Nikkei up 1%, a fresh 26-year high. In China, the Shanghai Composite gained 0.8%, rallying from downbeat trading Monday and the South Korea Kospi rose 0.7%, its third consecutive day of gains.

Write to Corrie Driebusch at corrie.driebusch@wsj.com, Michael Wursthorn at Michael.Wursthorn@wsj.com and David Hodari at David.Hodari@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 16, 2018 16:21 ET (21:21 GMT)