At the close, the index added 126 points to 14,253 - about 90 points better than the previous high. The record was reached with modest enthusiasm on Wall Street, especially compared with previous highs (volume was only a bit larger than normal) - and that's understandable given the economy's still-modest recovery. Then there's the nature of the Dow itself. The index is only made up of 30 companies and it's weighted in a strange way. It doesn't account for inflation. It doesn't reflect the overall economy. It's capricious. All that is true. And yet the Dow is the single metric by which people can measure - however crudely - the daily state of the financial world. It's the accepted proxy for the entire investment community. And its imprint on American optimism or pessimism is hard to deny. Given all that, an all-time record high can generate enthusiasm on many levels. That's why it's a big deal. From the NYT:
Since a low point in March 2009, the Dow Jones index has more than doubled, stunning even the most seasoned stock market watchers. "What's amazing about this bull market is that people still don't think it's real," said Richard Bernstein, chief executive of Richard Bernstein Advisors, a money management firm. "We think this could be the biggest bull market of our careers." On Tuesday in particular, leading indexes abroad were rising after the Chinese government announced that it would step up spending and European data showed that retail sales there have been stronger than expected. After the bell sounded at the New York Stock Exchange, stocks were pushed up more after a reading on the service sector in the United States showed that it had risen to its highest level of activity in a year, surprising analysts.