NEW YORK: The Dow Jones industrial average notched its ninth gain in a row, giving the index its longest winning streak in more than 16 years.
The index edged up 5.22 points, or 0.04 percent, to 14,455.28. The Dow has risen every trading day this month and is up 10.3 percent this year, having surpassed its previous all-time high of 14,164.53 on March 5.
Demand for stocks has been propelled this year by optimism that the housing market is recovering and that companies have started to hire. Strong company earnings and ongoing stimulus from the Federal Reserve are also helping make stocks more attractive.
The Dow’s last nine-day winning streak was logged in May 1996. In November of the same year, in the early days of the technology boom, it gained 10 days in a row.
Stocks overcame an early loss Wednesday, having edged lower at the start of the trading day despite an unexpectedly strong increase in U.S. consumer spending last month.
“As the market rises, so do expectations,” said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management. “So, even if you get good numbers you don’t necessarily get the market to go up.”
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.04 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,554.52. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.80 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,245.12
Stocks of retail companies rose after the sales report. Kohl’s rose $1.49, or 3.15 percent, to $48.82 and Best Buy gained 67 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $20.96.
Brian Gendreau, a strategist at Cetera Financial Group, says that even if markets dip in coming weeks, the trend of rising company earnings probably will push stocks higher in the longer term. So far companies have reported 7.7 percent earnings growth for the fourth quarter, the third consecutive quarter of gains, according to S&P Capital IQ.
“Earnings growth has been quite strong. Corporations have found a way to make money,” Gendreau said. “New products, new markets, cost savings. I don’t believe that is going to stop any time soon.”
The S&P 500 index has gained 9 percent in 2013 and is within less than a percentage point of its record close of 1,565.15 set in October 2007.
Stocks in Europe were mixed. Most markets edged lower after industrial production in the countries using the euro unexpectedly fell by 0.4 percent in January. Economists had expected it to rise by 0.1 percent, according to FactSet.