By Yasin Ebrahim
Investing.com – The Dow hit a record and topped the 34,000 milestone Thursday, as a double whammy of surging retail sales and corporate earnings that beat estimates triggered bullish bets on stocks.
Retail sales rose 9.8%, the largest monthly gain since last May, in a further sign that the U.S. consumer, awash with stimulus cash, remains in good shape.
“The combo of stimulus checks, good weather and the reopening propelled retail sales 9.8% m/m in March. This is second largest monthly gain on record, eclipsed only by last May’s 18.3% increase,” Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) said.
The backdrop of a healthy consumer has also been supported by an improving labor market.
U.S. jobless claims fell to 576,000 last week from 769,000 the prior week, a much larger decline than the 700,000 expected.
As well as upbeat economic data, the trend of better-than-expected earnings from Wall Street banks also supported investor sentiment on stocks.
Citigroup (NYSE:C) quarterly earnings garnered the most attention after the bank laid out a plan to sell its retail banking operations in Asia and eastern Europe to focus on wealth management.
Elsewhere, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) raised its annual guidance and first-quarter results that topped estimates on both the top and bottom lines, sending its shares up more than 3%.
PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) also delivered a first-quarter earnings beat as its organic sales of 2.4% beat estimates.
Tech, meanwhile, extended its gains from a day earlier as investors appear to be gearing up for strong earnings from megacap tech.
Still, there are some regulatory clouds forming around big tech as the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved a report accusing Big Tech companies of antitrust behavior, paving the blueprint for legislation to rein in the tech behemoths.
In other news, Coinbase Global (NASDAQ:COIN) was up more than 1% following a sharp rally on its trading debut Wednesday, but the cryptocurrency platform has caught the attention of famed fund manager Cathie Woods as ARK took a $250 million position in the stock a day earlier.
Dow Tops Historic 34,000 as Bulls Feast on Earnings, Retail Sales
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