Dow scores record close as S&P 500 briefly trades above closely watched milestone

U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday, with two out of three benchmarks carving out fresh records, while the S&P 500 briefly eclipsed the 5,000-point milestone for the first time ever, just before close.

How did stocks trade

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average
    gained 48.97 points, or 0.1%, ending at 38,726.33

  • The S&P 500
    gained 2.87 points, or 0.1%, closing at 4,997.91, after briefly trading above the 5,000 mark right before the bell.

  • The Nasdaq Composite
    rose 37.07 points, or 0.2%, finishing at 15,793.71.

What drove stocks

Stocks pushed higher into record territory on Thursday, with Wall Street’s main stock barometer briefly topping 5,000 for the first time ever in the final moments of trade, before ending fractionally below the milestone.

“It looks like investors are determined to pass this 5,000 level, in spite of the fact of higher yields since this morning,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities. “It’s the consistency of good earnings that are pushing the market higher.”

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield
climbed to 4.169% on Thursday, its second-highest yield of the year, and 30 basis points above its early-February low, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Still, the S&P 500 briefly topped its previous intraday high to trade above 5,000.40, before pulling back. It still scored a fresh closing record of 4,997.91.

See: S&P 500 touches 5,000 for first time, but fails to close above milestone

There were few catalysts available to drive the market on Thursday, other than a handful of earnings reports, said Mike O’Rourke, chief market technician at JonesTrading.

O’Rourke said the market remains top-heavy, tethered to a few technology companies, but with a rotation taking place as Tesla Inc.

and Apple Inc.
two members of the “Magnificent Seven” group of megacap technology names, have lagged in the new year.

Read: Stock-market investors fear a megacap meltdown. Here’s what history says.

Eli Lilly & Co.
which recently surpass Tesla’s market capitalization, joined the top-eight most valuable U.S. companies, per FactSet data.

“Of course, as we head into the last innings of the earning season, the market is probably heading for some sort of a pullback,” Spartan Capital’s Cardillo said.

“March also is always a murky month for the stock market,” he said, adding that commercial real estate and regional banks also look like a looming problem — nearly a year after the collapse of three regional lenders, including Silicon Valley Bank, last March.

Thursday’s earnings have been a mixed bag, with oil-exploration company ConocoPhillips’s

shares rising after it beat expectations for profits and sales, while shares of uranium producer Cameco Corp.

and confectionary giant Hershey Co.

slumped after they reported their results and guidance.

After the bell, investors were set to receive results from Affirm Holdings Inc.
Cloudflare Inc.

and Expedia Group Inc.

U.S. economic data published on Thursday showed the number of Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits in the first week of February fell by 9,000, to 218,000. Mortgage rates held steady, but wholesale inventories in the U.S. rose by 0.4% in December.

Read: Is an inflation shock coming? Wall Street is on guard.

Companies in focus

  • Under Armour Inc.

    shares rose 0.1% after the apparel company reported fiscal third-quarter profits that surpassed analysts’ estimates.

  • New York Community Bancorp Inc.

    shares fell 6.5% on Thursday after an analyst downgraded the stock on concerns that depositors might start to flee.

  • Spirit Airlines Inc.

    shares climbed 3.3% Thursday after the company posted a slimmer loss than expected in the latest quarter, while calling out encouraging booking trends and expressing confidence in its ability to return to profitability.

  • Wynn Resorts Ltd.

    shares gained 6.3% after the company posted fourth-quarter adjusted earnings that beat analysts’ expectations.

—Jamie Chisholm contributed to this article

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