U.S. stocks inched higher and toward records amid another volley of blue-chip earnings and more signs of economic growth.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4%, its third straight day of gains and one day after it hit 34000 for the first time. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% after posting its 22nd all-time closing high of 2021 on Thursday. The Nasdaq Composite bucked the trend, down less than 0.1%. All three indexes are on track for weekly gains of about 1%.
The long, steady rise for U.S. equities this year is itself a sign that the march can continue, said LPL Financial strategist Ryan Detrick. Since 1950, when the S&P 500 was up between 5% and 10% in the first quarter, it was up for the next three quarters nearly 90% of the time, he said, with the average gain about 12%. The index gained 5.8% in the first quarter.
“Think about it, we don’t want things to get too hot,” he said. The current trajectory “tends to suggest the market will continue to have an upward bias.”
A strong start to earnings season from banks and other financial companies has combined with data showing the economy is growing at a rapid clip to propel stocks higher this week. Adding to the momentum: A drop in yields on U.S. government bonds that has surprised some investors in its size and speed.