Make us your home page
Instagram

Dow rides raging bull market back above 12,000 mark

NEW YORK — Two years ago, the stock market was roadkill along the financial highway. Now one of the greatest bull markets in history is rolling along — maybe enough to finally get the attention of average investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 12,000 for the first time in 21/2 years Tuesday, putting the Great Recession even farther in the rearview mirror.

A broader measure of the stock market, the Standard & Poor's 500 index, closed above 1,300 for the first time since Aug. 28, 2008. And at least one widely watched measure suggests stocks are still cheap by historical standards.

The remarkable run for stocks began on March 9, 2009. The Dow stood at 6,547, its lowest point in 12 years. Since then, in the fastest climb since the Great Depression, it has risen 84 percent thanks to surging corporate profits, the unexpected resilience of personal spending and a bond-buying intervention by the Federal Reserve that made stocks more appealing. And some of the early gains came because investors realized that stocks had fallen too far during the financial crisis.

The Dow closed at 12,040.16 on Tuesday, advancing 148.23 points after strong corporate earnings reports and signs that the manufacturing sector had a good month in January. The S&P 500 closed at 1,307.59, up 21.47 points.

The rebound could bring small investors back to the stock market. They have pulled nearly $245 billion out of U.S. stock mutual funds since June 2008, the last time the Dow was at 12,000, according to the Investment Company Institute.

And if Americans believe in the stock market again, it could accelerate the economic recovery.

"The lack of confidence has acted as a sedative across the economy," says David Kelly, chief market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds. "The Dow at 12,000 could boost the psychology of the American investor and be a more powerful stimulant than anything else."

Businesses have been sitting on an enormous pile of cash — the biggest as a share of their total assets since 1959. They are starting to spend a little, upgrading their computer systems and buying basic materials in order to expand — even if they have yet to hire again in great numbers.

"We are at a new stage in the economy," says Liz Ann Sonders, chief market strategist at Charles Schwab. "There is a tremendous amount of pent-up demand for business capital spending."

The stock market's gains haven't been matched elsewhere. Real estate prices in some cities are still near the lows they hit at the worst of the financial crisis. Economists expect that this year could bring record foreclosures. Some state and local governments are struggling to provide basic services, and the federal deficit is at its highest level as a percentage of GDP since the end of World War II.

Now the economy is expanding again. But the unemployment rate is 9.4 percent. Millions are unable to afford to invest in a stock rally passing them by.

Dow rides raging bull market back above 12,000 mark 02/01/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 9:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”
  2. Potential new laws further curb Floridians' right to government in the Sunshine

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — From temporarily shielding the identities of murder witnesses to permanently sealing millions of criminal and arrest records, state lawmakers did more this spring than they have in all but one of the past 22 years to chip away at Floridians' constitutional guarantees to access government records and …

    The Legislature passed 17 new exemptions to the Sunshine Law, according to a tally by the First Amendment Foundation.
  3. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  4. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?

    Energy

    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. Citigroup agrees to pay nearly $100 million fine for Mexican subsidiary

    Banking

    NEW YORK — Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering.

    Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering. 
[Associated Press file photo]