MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow Ends Above 26,000 As Main Stock Indexes Stage Late-session Rally

Buoyant stock market looks 'extraordinarily stretched,' says strategist

The Dow industrials on Wednesday staged a late rally to end above 26,000 for the first time ever, knocking out another round-number milestone at a history-setting pace for blue chips, with all the main equity indexes finishing at all-time highs. An upbeat gauge of conditions at the Federal Reserve's business districts contributed to the buying sentiment.

How did the main benchmarks fare?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 322.79 points, or 1.3%, to 26,115.65. On Tuesday, it traded above 26,000 but ended down by less than 0.1% ( after its intraday gain of more than 200 points failed to stick, marking the largest one-day reversal since February 2016.

The S&P 500 rose 26.14 points, or 0.9%, to 2,802.56. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 74.59 points, or 1%, to 7,298.28.

Major indexes are up more than 4% for the year, the best such start since 2003 ( for the Dow and the S&P 500.

What drove the market?

The three main equity gauges have risen between 24% and 32% over the past 12 months, helped by factors such as an expanding U.S. economy, growth in corporate profits and enthusiasm over the Trump administration's business-friendly policies, such as tax cuts.

Read:Stock market still hasn't entered 'euphoria' phase, skeptics say (

Traders will have to deal may with the possibility of a government shutdown this weekend, some analysts said. Lawmakers are hustling to hammer out a deal on immigration seen as key to breaking the deadlock. Without a spending agreement by 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time Saturday, the government will partially shut down operations.

Check out:Here's how stocks handled past government shutdowns (

The Fed's Beige Book indicted that the outlook for 2018 "remains optimistic for a majority of contacts across the country." As for the much vaunted tax cuts, only businesses in Chicago and Dallas were excited over the Republican tax plan, while districts along the East Coast were worried about higher taxes from the new limits on deductions for mortgage interest and property and state income taxes.

See:Fed's Beige Book finds muted reaction to Republican tax plan (

Which stocks were key movers?

General Electric Co.(GE) slumped 4.7%, extending steep losses seen in Tuesday's session that came after the industrial conglomerate announced a fourth quarter after-tax charge of $6.2 billion ( and a $3 billion cash capital contribution to its insurance subsidiary that will grow to $15 billion by 2024.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s stock (GS) was 1.9% lower after the Wall Street icon posted lower profit and revenue for its fourth quarter (, its worst result in six years.

Shares in Bank of America Corp.(BAC) fell 0.2% after the giant lender posted quarterly revenue that missed expectations (, though the results were impacted by the recently passed tax bill.

U.S. Bancorp (USB) reported adjusted earnings that were slightly ahead of analyst forecasts ( The regional bank said the new tax law boosted its profit in the quarter. Shares fell 1.5%.

Shares in CSX Corp.(CSX) dropped 0.8% after the railroad operator late Tuesday posted adjusted quarterly earnings that topped expectations (

International Business Machines Corp.(IBM) rose 2.9% after Barclays upgraded the stock to overweight from underweight.

What were strategists saying?

"So far so good when it comes to earnings, though the season is still young and valuations are high enough that Wall Street will demand a very good season. If companies do well on profits but not revenue, they could get punished," said Craig Birk, executive vice president of portfolio management at Personal Capital.

Birk said the lack of volatility in markets had been "stunning," and that "while we don't expect this to continue, we also don't see anything that will bring a shock to the market."

Other analysts stuck a more cautious tone about the market's lofty levels.

Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at wealth manager Bleakley Financial Group, called the market "extraordinarily stretched" in a note to clients, adding, "only a few times in history has the stock market been this overbought. We know from a variety of sentiment indicators how euphoric the environment has gotten."

Read:Investors should be pessimistic about the rise in stock-market optimism (

What are economic data saying about the economy?

Industrial production rose 0.9% in December ( for the fourth straight monthly increase, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. The gain was above Wall Street expectations of a 0.6% increase.

Check out:MarketWatch's Economic Calendar (

What did other assets do?

European stocks traded lower (, while Asian markets finished mixed ( Gold futures ( settled slightly higher, oil futures recovered to end higher (, and the ICE U.S. Dollar Index reversed direction, strengthening against its main rivals ( Bitcoin fell below $10,000 as a selloff for cryptocurrencies continued ( before bouncing back to trade at $10,812.

( Reklaitis contributed to this article

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 17, 2018 16:36 ET (21:36 GMT)