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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 December, 2003, 23:29 GMT
Dow Jones ends above 10,000 level
The New York Stock Exchange
Will the market keep rising?
The Dow Jones share index has closed above the 10,000 level for the first time since May 2002.

The market was given a boost after minutes from a Federal Reserve meeting appeared to rule out the prospect of any early rise in US interest rates.

Investors have been pushing shares up steadily since March, after signs that the US economy recovery is taking hold.

After spending much of the day close to the 10,000 level, the Dow eventually finished up 86.3 points at 10,008.16.

This market is ready to have a good run to the end of the year
Michael Murphy, Wachovia Securities
It was the first time the index had finished above the 10,000 level since 24 May 2002 when it closed at 10,104.26.

Shares had been given a lift earlier in the day by better-than-expected retail sales figures for November.

The other US share indexes also closed higher, with the Nasdaq up 37.67 points, nearly 2%, at 1,942.32 and the S&P 500 12.16 points higher at 1,071.21.

Optimism rises

The Dow had nosed above 10,000 on Tuesday this week, but had failed to sustain the level to the end of the trading session.

BBC News Online charts the highs and lows of the Dow Jones over the ages.

The latest set of GDP figures showed the economy stormed ahead at an annualised rate of 8.2% during the July to September period.

While no analysts think the economy can keep this sort of pace up, growth is still expected to maintain a respectable speed during the final quarter.

"This market is ready to have a good run to the end of the year," said Michael Murphy, head trader at Wachovia Securities in Baltimore.

"People are looking at the economy and are starting to see good growth."

But some analysts were more cautious.

"Up at this price, everyone is wondering what comes next - whether stocks might be too high," said Joseph V. Battipaglia, chief investment officer at Ryan Beck & Co.

"I don't think you're going to see the same kinds of gains next year," he added.

Rate rise postponed?

The comments in the Fed minutes from a meeting held on 28 October proved the key moment for the market.

Dow Jones facts
The Dow first broke through the 10,000 level on 16 March,1999
It first closed above that level on 29 March, 1999
The Dow reached its all-time high of 11,750 on 14 Jan, 2000
Following the bursting of the tech boom, the Dow bottomed out at 7,286.27 on 9 Oct, 2002
The minutes indicated that the Fed thought it was likely that inflation would remain low for "the next year or two", and that the labour market could remain "slack" for some time.

Investors took the remarks as indicating that there was no prospect of any increase in interest rates in the short term.

On Tuesday, the Fed kept US rates unchanged at 1% and said they expected the current policy to be "maintained for a considerable period".

"The consensus is that rates are not going up," said Keith Keenan, vice president of institutional trading at Wall Street Access.

"The equity market wouldn't be sitting with Dow over 10,000 if people actually thought rates were going higher."

Earlier on Thursday, retail sales figures had got the trading day off to a good start after they showed purchases rose by 0.9% in November - a faster rate than most had expected.




MARKET DATA - 11:37 UK

FTSE 100
5428.78up
22.84 0.42%
Dax
5732.06up
18.55 0.32%
Cac 40
3783.91up
14.37 0.38%
Dow Jones
10403.79up
78.53 0.76%
Nasdaq
2273.57up
35.31 1.58%
Data delayed by at least 15 minutes


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