A standard one-step forward, two-steps backward reaction whenever the market nears a milestone. Also standard is the harumphing among Wall Street commentators about how these milestones mean next to nothing because the Dow is not representative of the overall stock market. From Slate's Daniel Gross:
For one thing, there's no way 30 stocks can adequately mirror a dynamic economy. Compounding that problem, the editors of the Wall Street Journal explicitly exclude transportation and utility stocks in selecting the Dow's components. (Dow Jones publishes widely followed indexes devoted exclusively to those sectors.) These are just a few of the reasons Wall Street professionals have little use for the Dow.
And yet the Dow is a big deal in the same way that gas prices are: They provide a daily snapshot, however imperfect, that alerts people on whether they should feel upbeat or downbeat about the economy. Those snaps, spread out over a period of days or weeks, help mold spending and investment patterns. It's really kind of a dumb way to make money decisions, but that's the way it happens. Brokers say they'll often get calls from their clients whenever the market indexes reach one of these thresholds. That's especially true at a time when interest rates are outrageously low - and judging from the comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, likely to stay low for the next couple of years. In other words, you have to make money somewhere, somehow, so why not get in on one of the few places where the return is better than 0.60 percent?
At the close, the Dow was at 12,965, up 15 points.