Banks and other financial companies led U.S. stocks sharply higher in early afternoon trading Wednesday, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average above 21,000 points for the first time. Energy and materials companies were also among the big gainers, while utilities stocks lagged. The rally came a day after President Donald Trump addressed Congress, reaffirming plans to cut taxes and push for other business-friendly policies.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow jumped 316 points, or 1.5 percent, to 21,128 as of 12:48 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 32 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,396. The Nasdaq composite index added 73 points, or 1.3 percent, to 5,898. Small-company stocks continued to outpace the rest of the market, a bullish signal on the economy. The Russell 2000 index rose 28 points, or 2 percent, to 1,414.
THE QUOTE: “It’s nice to see the Dow put another thousand figure up so quickly,” said Paul Christopher, head global market strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “At the same time, it sort of suggests this is a sentiment-driven rally. There’s usually some recalibration of sentiment at some point.”
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.