Dow jumps 300 points to top 34,000 for the first time amid blowout economic data

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U.S. stocks climbed to record levels on Thursday after key companies reported strong earnings and fresh economic data pointed to a rebound in consumer spending and the jobs market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 305.10 points, or 0.9%, to a record close of 34,035.99, marking the first time the blue-chip benchmark has crossed the 34,000 milestone. The S&P 500 gained 1.1% to 4,170.42, also reaching a record high. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.3% to 14,038.76.

Technology shares rebounded as bond yields fell. The so-called FAANG stocks – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet – all climbed more than 1%. The 10-year Treasury yield dropped 8 basis points below 1.56%. Earlier in the year, higher rates caused investors to dump growth-oriented stocks.

Retail sales surged 9.8% in March as additional stimulus sent consumer spending soaring, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. That number topped the Dow Jones estimate of a 6.1% gain.

A separate report on Thursday showed that first-time filings for unemployment insurance dropped to the lowest level since March 2020. The Labor Department reported 576,000 new jobless claims for the week ended April 10. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a total of 710,000.

“Although 34,000 by itself is just another number, this is a monumental feat when you think back to where we were last year at this time,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial. “The speed and resiliency of this economic recovery is unlike anything we’ve ever seen and it helps to justify stocks at all-time highs.”

Shares of UnitedHealth, a Dow member, gained 3.8% after results topped the Street’s forecasts and the health insurer raised guidance for 2021.

Pepsi shares added 0.1% after the consumer snack and drink maker said sales last quarter rose nearly 7%, topping estimates.

The market has been grinding higher to reach new records in recent sessions amid the economic reopening and trillions of dollars in stimulus. The S&P 500 has gained 11% in 2021 with energy and financials up the most year to date.

“I am incredibly bullish on the markets, and you are right to be worried about our deficits,” Larry Fink, BlackRock CEO, said in an interview on “Squawk Box.” “If we don’t have economic growth that is sustainable over the next 10 years — our deficits are going to matter and they are going to elevate interest rates … I believe because of monetary stimulus, fiscal stimulus, cash on the sidelines, earnings, markets are okay. Markets are going to continue to be stronger.”

Shares of Citigroup erased earlier gains and fell 0.5% The bank posted results that beat analysts’ estimates for first-quarter profit with strong investment banking revenue and a bigger-than-expected release of loan-loss reserves.

Bank of America shares rose as earnings last quarter blew past the Street on booming trading and investment banking results as well the release of loan-loss reserves. The shares dipped 2.9%, however.

Newly public crypto exchange Coinbase rolled over and closed the day down 1.7% in volatile trading. The stock got a boost earlier after it was revealed Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood loaded up on the first day of trading.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration called for a pause in administering J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine after six people in the U.S. developed a rare disorder involving blood clots. The announcement triggered a sell-off in reopening plays earlier in the week, but is not expected to have a material impact on the pace of the U.S. vaccine rollout.

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