S&P 500, Dow close at record highs

Stocks rally despite disappointing reports on jobs and the economy. The first quarter ends with solid gains for equities. Markets will be closed for the Good Friday holiday.

By Charley Blaine Mar 28, 2013 12:34PM
Updated: 6:06 p.m. ET

It took five years, five months and 14 trading sessions, but on Thursday, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) finally closed at a new all-time high.

Finishing at 1,569.19, up 6 points, the index joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) and a host of other averages that, in the past six months or so, have broken records set in 2007 -- before U.S. stocks fell apart in 2008 and 2009.

The S&P 500 closed about two points above the previous closing high of 1,565.15, set on Oct. 9, 2007. The index crossed the key level at 10:36 a.m. and moved as high as 1,570.28. Thursday's close is still a touch less than 7 points below the index's all-time intraday high of 1,576.09, set on Oct. 11, 2007. Markets will be closed on Good Friday.
The Dow, meanwhile, finished up 52 points at 14,579, a closing high of its own. It also hit a new intraday high of 14,585.10.

The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) added 11 points to 3,268. It's still about 35% below its March 2000 closing high of 5,048.62, which came at the cusp of the dot-com bubble.

What makes the S&P 500's closing high important is what the index represents: about 75% of the capitalization of the U.S. market. It includes all of the 30 stocks in the Dow and along with important companies such as Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), Ford Motor (F), Comcast (CMCSA), Kroger (KR) and Wells Fargo (WFC).

The S&P 500's record close came on the last day of what has been a solid quarter for stocks. The S&P 500 finished up 10% for the quarter.

The Dow, meanwhile, ended up 11.25% for the quarter, its best first quarter since 1998 and its best overall quarter since the final three months of 2011. The Nasdaq is up 8.2% year-to-date. The market hasn't had a down year since 2008.

For the month, the S&P closed up 3.6%. The Dow had a 3.7% gain, and the Nasdaq added 3.4%.  Arrow Up (© Image Source/Photolibrary)

Thursday's rally came despite a weaker-than-expected report on weekly jobless claims. And a reading of the economy from the Chicago Purchasing Managers wasn't as strong as expected.

But investors were cheered by revised data from the government that showed gross domestic product rose at a 0.4% rate in the fourth quarter of 2012, up from a prior 0.1% estimate and after a 3.1% gain in the third quarter.

Worries about Europe lessened. Cyprus was able to open its banks on Thursday for the first time all week, but depositors didn't try to withdraw all their funds immediately.

Helping fuel the rally that began in 2009 have been the Federal Reserve's moves to keep interest rates at record-low levels since late 2008. That allowed the housing market to stabilize in 2012 and to start to show some growth again. The Fed's policy also has given the automobile industry room to recover.

The market has rallied despite continuing concerns that have hovered around investors' thinking since the 2009 market bottom.

These include: worries about the stability of the global financial system, slumping economies in Europe, slow growth in the United States and the fear that China's growth may not be fast enough to help the global economy.

As great a fear is that the Fed will reverse course and start to let rates move higher. The U.S. central bank has been targeting the federal funds rate -- the rate banks charge each other for overnight loans -- at 0% to 0.25%. The federal funds rate is the starting point for most U.S. interest rates.

The 10-year Treasury yield, a key determinant of mortgage rates, was at 1.852% on the day, up slightly from Wednesday -- but down from 4.04% at the end of 2007.

It's not clear what will happen next. Many investors believe markets "must go lower" (their phrase, not mine) because the fundamentals of the domestic economy don't support the indexes' current levels. Maybe.

But stocks surged steadily from the start of the 1980s rally in August 1982 through all of 1983, even as the economic data suggested the economy was still struggling.

What is true about the S&P 500 today is that it is up only about 2.7% from its 2000 peak of 1,527.46, set on March 24, 2000. Despite the fact that Netflix (NFLX) is up more than 4,000% since going public in early 2002 or that Google hadn't yet gone public.

That alone should concern those bulls who see the index hitting 1,600 this year.

At the same time, the U.S. stock market has moved significantly ahead in the last few years even as markets in Europe and Asia have not. The Bank of New York Mellon European ADR Index ($BKEUR) is up 2.5% since March 30, 2010. The S&P 500 is up nearly 35%.

ADRs are the acronym for American Depositary Units, which track the stocks of non-U.S. companies. The Bank of New York Mellon ADR indexes for Asia and China are little changed. The Bank of New York Mellon ADR Index ($BKADR) which tracks all indexes, is down 0.5%

As rallies go, Thursday's was modest. Twenty-four of the 30 Dow stocks closed higher, led by IBM (IBM) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). Chevron (CVX) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) were the laggards.

Meanwhile, 375 S&P 500 stocks saw gains on the day, led by Gamestop (GME) and Biogen Idec (BIIB). The laggards were Consol Energy (CNX) and Apple (AAPL).

In addition, 75 of the stocks in the Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX) rose. The index was up 4 points to 2,814. Biogen Idec and eBay (EBAY) were the winners. Apple and Facebook (FB) were the biggest losers.

Crude oil (-CL) in New York settled higher, up 65 cents to $97.23 a barrel. Brent crude in London also gained. Gold (-GC) in New York dropped $11.50 to $1,595.70 an ounce. Silver (-SI) and platinum (-PL) were lower.
Mar 28, 2013 1:51PM
Record highs in the stock markets. Can you tell me why my salary is barely higher now than it was back in 2008?
Mar 28, 2013 3:43PM

Don't want to make a snide remark about your salary from 2008...

But many would consider you quite lucky, because you have a JOB.

Mar 28, 2013 2:07PM
Happy Easter everyone!I hope I get a chocolate bunny in my basket this year.
Mar 28, 2013 3:43PM
Record highs are due to the TBTF bankers spending 85billion a month of interest free Benny Bucks with no risk or consequences if they fail, (which we are stuck paying for) but record 'profits' if they succeed, none of which you or I will ever see. We get record inflation, no interest at all on savings accounts and the highest food prices in history.
Mar 28, 2013 4:50PM
Just more proof that Wall Street has totally lost touch with reality.  Unemployment just went up.  The 4th quarter were terrible, GDP down, all of this news came out today.  But guess what, those in Wall Street decided to live in LaLa land again.  Greed for money, or any greed, is an evil evil thing.  Number of people on food stamps at an all time high.  That came out today also.  Yeah, our economy is booming.  Fricking crazy.
Mar 28, 2013 1:38PM

His voice doesn't bother me at all - because I never listen to it.

Mar 28, 2013 3:31PM
Now, Squawk commentators, tell us about how well the US economy is doing, and enough with breaking records ... we know that!!!
Mar 28, 2013 7:30PM
I'm thankful for my job.........I'm thankful that they took less this year than they have for the last 3 years........I don't get excited about the stocks raising/falling...........I'm thankful for being able to go to the fridge and it's not empty.....I'm thankful to be able to express how I feel and not be afraid of being placed in jail....... I would like a pecan egg.....and maybe some black jellybeans... and I believe that every state should test welfare recipients for drugs if we are going to continue to support them.....if they are not dirty, then they have nothing to worry about and will continue to get their benefits, but if they are dirty, they should have to apply all over again with proof of treatment, I am tired of seeing hungry/dirty/ragged children with coked out nodding parents, hell it's our money, we should have some say in the matter...I'm just saying
Mar 28, 2013 2:24PM
Be careful America! Historically every time we set an all time record high the bottom drops out shortly afterwards and we go in to a tail spin. The boys on Wall Street still do not really understand that bigger does not mean better or even means real growth. The world is still not economically solidified, otherwise we wouldn't be seeing a need to bail out good ole Cyprus, and the EU talking about new policies on people who have a right to decide their own economic fortune or misfortune!

Especially in the electronic age of enlightenment. Just ask the North Koreans? Anyone can doctor anything on the age of cyberspace. Photoshop is not that hard to learn. So don't think that we can't text shop our financial data as well. Nothing beats good old hard cash or coins!
Mar 28, 2013 4:31PM

"... have broken records set in 2007 [Bush]"

"...all-time closing high of 1,565.15."


Yes ..BUT 1,565.15 is actually 1126.91 when you subtract the 28% inflation caused by counterfeiting TWO TRILLION dollars based upon nothing but  a sick GNP and considering $17 TRILLION debt!!!!

Mar 28, 2013 4:31PM

Safety belts fastened.

Tray tables in the upright position.

When the oxygen masks deploy. Put yours on before helping others.

Your seat is also a flotation device.

Take the time now to locate the emergency exit doors.

It's okay to crap in your pants and live to change them.


Happy Easter.

Mar 28, 2013 3:45PM
Any kind of Chocolates, would be fine with me....We like sweets, they are good for you.
Mar 28, 2013 6:31PM
Jim Rogers is an idiot. He has been preaching economic armageddon for at least 35 years that I personally remember. Don't trust politicians he says. Don't trust governments he says. The sky is falling he says. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Mar 28, 2013 7:19PM

Who gives a ****........oh wait maybe the ****s that make more than 200,000 a year. >(

Mar 28, 2013 8:27PM
As long as the FED and the Obama Administration keeps printing $85 billion a month the stock market will go up while it's actual worth and the worth of our savings will go down.
Mar 29, 2013 11:13AM
168....If you don't believe any"published" figures, why should we cling to yours...??
Mar 29, 2013 11:10AM

For having a high iq of 168....Your figuring sure as hell is suspect...?


Everyone have a Good Friday.....And a nice Easter.

Mar 28, 2013 2:46PM
Greed is running this country. Between the Fed and Wall Street. the average American Consumer is so screwed . This market is pathetic. Wait until the big 85 Billion Dollar Security Blanket is pulled out from under them and then see how many records the Morons set. Wall Street has nothing in common as to what is taking place on Main Street in our country, but sooner or later they will find out because the big bubble will burst and I for one cannot wait for it to happen.
Mar 28, 2013 12:47PM
does it mean we won't have to listen to Jim Kramer's whining voice anymore???
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