U.S. equities and stock exchange traded funds climbed Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average topping 21,000 for the first time ever, as investors grew more optimistic on the economic outlook, following announcements from President Donald Trump and Federal Reserve officials.
The S&P 500 Index, along with related funds including the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY), iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: IVV) and Vanguard 500 Index (NYSEArca: VOO), were 1.4% higher Wednesday.
U.S. markets have continuously broken new records since the presidential election, with the Dow now trading up over 300 points to around 21,123. If the Dow holds onto its intraday gains, it will tie the fastest thousand-point surge in history – the blue-chip index rose 1,000 points in 24 sessions back in 1999, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Equities rallied after Trump provided an optimistic tone in his speech to Congress Tuesday evening, despite revealing new details for his policies.
“The market woke up this morning believing in Trump’s ability to enact a pro-business agenda,” Tom Wright, director of equities at JMP Securities, told the WSJ. “The trend has been up, because of underlying optimism, but it’s been tempered by concern they may not be able to get that agenda through Congress.”
Investors were also watching the likelihood of a Fed rate hike in March in response to comments from a number of officials suggesting another quarter-point interest rate increase in the next meeting. The rising interest rates reflects a stronger economy that can handle the bumps from the Fed as a way to keep growth in check.
“The specter of higher rates means the economy is doing better,” Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital, told Reuters.
New York Fed President William Dudley argued that raising rates “has become a lot more compelling” in light of the economy’s current and expected performance. San Francisco Fed President John Williams also remarked that a rate change in the March meeting was “very much on the table for serious consideration.”
However, some are worried about valuations, with the S&P 500 trading at an average of roughly 22 times their last 12 months of earnings, compared to their 10-year average of around 16.
“I’m usually pretty bullish, but I’m worried there’s too many people who have joined the party,” Tom Digenan, head of U.S. equities at UBS Global Asset Management, told the WSJ.
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