Dow Tops 18,000 As Market Reaches New Highs

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks pushed further into record territory on Tuesday as the Dow Jones industrial average crossed past the 18,000-point mark for the first time. Investors cheered new data showing the U.S. economy grew in the third quarter at the fastest pace in more than a decade.


KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 68 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,027 as of 9:58 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained five points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,083. The Nasdaq composite slipped less than one point to 4,780.


GROWTH SPURT: The Commerce Department reported that the economy grew at a 5 percent annual rate in the July-September period, powered by stronger consumer spending and business investment. That's the fastest quarterly growth since the summer of 2003.


ECONOMIC BAROMETERS: Investors were monitoring a mixed bag of economic reports early Tuesday including factory orders, which declined in November amid falling demand in the military and defense sectors.


SECTOR VIEW: Nine of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 moved higher, with financials posting the biggest gain. Health care stocks fell. Chesapeake Energy led the gainers in the S&P 500, rising 99 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $19.41. Celgene paced the decliners, falling $6.67, or 5.9 percent, to $106.83.


HOLIDAY RALLY: Major stock indexes have ended higher the past four trading days, with the Dow and S&P 500 closing at record highs on Monday. Investors have been encouraged by signs of strength in the U.S. economy and reassurances that the Federal Reserve won't interest rates soon. Trading volume is expected to thin out the next couple of days as the market shifts into Christmas holiday mode. On Wednesday, U.S. and European markets close early.


OVERSEAS ACTION: In Europe, France's CAC-40 added 1.3 percent and Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent. Britain's FTSE rose 0.5 percent. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index closed down 3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.3 percent and Seoul's Kospi lost 0.2 percent. India's Sensex declined 0.6 percent.


ENERGY: Oil prices stabilized after a recent rout. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 48 cents to $55.74 per barrel.


BONDS: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.20 percent.

         – by AP Reporter Alex Veiga

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