Dow surges above 29,000 and stock market hits fresh records, propelled by strong earnings and data

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U.S. benchmarks jumped to all-time intraday highs early Thursday, on the heels of the signing of a formal trade truce between the U.S. and China, completed at a White House signing ceremony on Wednesday. Investors were judging a batch of U.S. economic reports including those on retail sales and jobless claims and a fresh batch of quarterly results, headlined by those from Morgan Stanley, as upbeat, providing further reason to extend a record-setting move by stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.58% rose 170 points, or 0.6%, at 29,202, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.52% advanced 0.5% at 3,307, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.71% picked up 0.7% to 9,320. All three stock gauges touched intraday records at the start of Thursday action. In economic news, most retailers posted higher sales in December to finish out the holiday season on a strong note. Retail sales increased 0.3% last month, the government said Thursday, just a tick below the MarketWatch forecast. Meanwhile, the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits in early January fell for the fifth week in a row, giving a clean bill of health to strong U.S. labor market as 2020 got underway. And the Philadelphia Fed gauge of business conditions indicated that its gauge of business activity in its region surged in January. The regional Fed bank’s index rose to 17 in January from 2.4 in the prior month. On the corporate front, Morgan Stanley MS, +6.90% saw its shares rally after the investment bank reported fourth-quarter earnings and sales that rose well above expectations.