US stocks surge; Dow marks first time above 21,000 points

Financial Markets Wall Street
Jonathan Niles, left, and Jay Woods work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Stocks opened strongly higher on Wall Street, led by big gains in banks as investors expected interest rates to rise. The early jump Wednesday put the Dow Jones industrial average above 21,000 points for the first time. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

March 1, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) Banks and other financial companies led U.S. stocks sharply higher in 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 346 points, or 1.7 percent, to 21,158 as of 2:25 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 36 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,400. The Nasdaq composite index added 81 points, or 1.4 percent, to 5,907. Small-company stocks continued to outpace the rest of the market, a bullish signal on the economy. The Russell 2000 index rose 26 points, or 1.9 percent, to 1,413.

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.

BANK BOOST: Investors bid up bank shares in anticipation that interest rates will rise. JPMorgan Chase climbed $3.19, or 3.5 percent, to $93.81. Goldman Sachs rose $5.52, or 2.2 percent, to $253.58.

LUMBER JACKED: Builders FirstSource, a maker of building materials, jumped 12.8 percent, getting a boost from rising lumber prices. The stock gained $1.66 to $14.60.

BUILD IT: Lowe’s climbed 9.2 percent after the home-improvement retailer’s latest quarterly earnings and outlook beat Wall Street’s forecasts. The stock added $6.87 to $81.24.

PUMPED: Big 5 Sporting Goods gained 11.7 percent after the athletic gear retailer delivered strong quarterly results. Its shares rose $1.58 to $15.03.

DISAPPOINTING RESULTS: Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises sank 39.3 percent after the energy sector supply company’s latest quarterly report card and guidance fell short of financial analysts’ expectations. The stock lost $6.49 to $10.01.

SALES SLUMP: Best Buy fell 4.8 percent after the consumer electronics chain reported weak sales and issued an outlook that failed to impress financial analysts. The stock slid $2.13 to $42.

PIN THIS: Etsy slumped 13.8 percent after the online crafts marketplace issued guidance that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. The stock shed $1.67 to $10.45.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 2 percent, while France’s CAC 40 gained 2.1 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 picked up 1.6 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.4 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.2 percent. South Korea’s markets were closed for a holiday.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude veered lower after heading higher earlier in the day. It was down 8 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $53.94 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, was down 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $56.35 a barrel in London.

TREASURY YIELDS: Bond prices fell and yields rose after a key Federal Reserve official, New York Fed President William Dudley, said the case for raising interest rates had gotten stronger. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.46 percent from 2.40 percent late Tuesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.67 yen from Tuesday’s 112.17 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0555 from $1.0597.

METALS: The price of gold fell $3.90 to $1,250 an ounce. Silver added 2 cents to $18.44 an ounce. Copper rose 2 cents to $2.73 a pound.

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ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer

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