Business

Dow breaks through 21,000-point ceiling for 1st time

North American stock markets soared a day after a speech by U.S. President Donald Trump before Congress in which he repeated plans to spur economic growth and cut taxes.

Record follows U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to Congress

All three major Wall Street indexes finished at record highs on Tuesday. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

North American stock markets soared a day after a speech by U.S. President Donald Trump before Congress in which he repeated plans to spur economic growth and cut taxes.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index climbed 200.44 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 15,599.68 — driven higher by big gains in the metals, materials and industrials sectors.

The Canadian dollar weakened against a strengthening greenback, losing 0.31 of a U.S. cent at 74.99 cents US.

South of the border, all three major Wall Street indexes finished at record highs.

The Dow Jones industrial average surpassed the 21,000 mark for the first time ever, finishing up 303.31 points at 21,115.55. At one point, the 30-company average was up more than 356 points. The Dow hadn't been up more than 300 points in one day since November. 

The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 32.32 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 2,395.96. That's the biggest single-day gain for the index, the benchmark favoured by professional investors, since early November. The Nasdaq composite gained 78.59 points at 5,904.03.

Optimism on Wall Street

Banks were the biggest gainers on Wall Street amid heightened expectations that an improving economy will lead to higher interest rates. Energy stocks also notched big gains. Utilities and real estate stocks lagged.

The dollar strengthened against the yen and euro and other major currencies. Bond prices fell, as did the price of crude oil and gold.

Optimism over corporate tax cuts, deregulation and other business-friendly policy proposals reiterated by Trump during a speech before Congress helped fuel the rally. Growing speculation that the Federal Reserve may soon elect to raise interest rates again also helped put traders in a buying mood.

"We're seeing a strong risk-on rally in the face of rising expectations of Fed action as early as March based on a belief there will be a pro-growth agenda that gets enacted," said Bill Northey, chief investment officer of the Private Client Group at U.S. Bank. "It's been what I would characterize as a bit of market euphoria on the back of the president's address to the joint session of Congress last night."

On Tuesday night, Trump struck a less confrontational tone than usual and steered away from dramatically negative descriptions of the state of the U.S. economy. Trump also reaffirmed his pledges to reform taxes, slash red tape and increase spending on defence and infrastructure projects, though his remarks offered few new policy specifics.

The proposed reforms have helped send U.S. stock benchmarks to record highs in the weeks since the election in November.

"The market has shifted from being worried about lower growth for longer, to expecting more growth sooner rather than later," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Cornerstone Financial Partners.

With files from The Associated Press

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