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Dow closes above 40K for first time

By Ehren Wynder
A trader wears a baseball cap reading "40,000" as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Wall Street in New York City on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Friday at 40,000 for the first time after briefly topping 40,000 on Thursday before closing at 39,965 in late trading. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A trader wears a baseball cap reading "40,000" as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Wall Street in New York City on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Friday at 40,000 for the first time after briefly topping 40,000 on Thursday before closing at 39,965 in late trading. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

May 17 (UPI) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Friday above the record 40,000 mark for the first time in its 139-year history.

The 30-stock average gained 134.21 points, or 0.3%, to close at 40,003.59.

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The S&P 500 rose 6.17 points, or 0.1%, to end at 5,303.27, while the Nasdaq Composit lost 12.35 points, or 0.1%, to finish at 16,685.97.

The Dow initially crossed the 40,000 mark on Thursday but finished below that at closing.

All three major indexes scored weekly gains, with the Dow up 1.2% in its fifth straight weekly gain. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose 1.5% and 2.1%, respectively, with four consecutive weekly gains, their longest positive streak since February.

Shares of Walmart and Caterpillar both rose 1%, carrying the Dow to the 40,000 finish line Friday. Shares of Chubb and Valero Energy rose more than 3% and 4% respectively, making them the biggest gainers for the S&P 500.

Investors said the Dow's record finish doesn't have much practical value on Wall Street, but it can serve as an important boost in public confidence in the economy.

"40,000 is a great milestone, but end of the day there isn't much difference between 39,999 and 40k," Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at Carson Group, told CNN. "Still, this is a great reminder of how far we've come. Think about how many people were talking about recessions and bear markets all of last year. Now we are once again back to new highs."

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Tom Hainlin, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Asset Management, said combination of economic growth and decelerating inflation is a "fairly optimistic setup" for 2024.

"We appreciate that valuation is a little high relative to history, but so is earnings growth and so is earnings stability," Hainlin told CNBC.

Investors have been encouraged by a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, which indicated inflation was beginning to ease, paving the way for the Federal Reserve to implement rate cuts to ease monetary conditions on consumers and businesses.

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