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Dow Jones Industrial Average Crosses 12,000 for First Time

Dow Jones Industrial Average Crosses 12,000 for First Time

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AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Dow Jones industrial average swept past 12,000 for the first time Wednesday, extending its march into record territory as investors grow increasingly optimistic about corporate earnings and the economy.

The index of 30 big-name stocks surpassed the milestone just after trading began, rising as high as 12,046.63. The Dow had already set closing records seven times during the past two weeks.

It took the Dow 7 1/2 years to make the trip from 11,000, having been pummeled during that time by the dot-com bust, recession and the aftermath of the 2001 terror attacks. That slow trek was a striking contrast with the Dow's sprint from 10,000 to 11,000 in just 24 days in the spring of 1999, during the heady days of the Internet boom.

The Dow, whose stocks include blue chips such as International Business Machines Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., has risen nearly 350 points so far this month as oil prices retreated below $60 a barrel and it appeared the economy was headed for a soft landing after more than two years of interest rate increases.

In the first hour of trading, the Dow was up 91.65, or 0.77 percent, to 12,041.67.

Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 8.04, or 0.59 percent, at 1,372.09, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 16.70, or 0.71 percent, to 2,361.65.

Investors' relief over oil's decline from a high of $78.40 has given Wall Street an unusually strong October; some of the market's worst days, including the 1929 and 1987 crashes, have been in October. And it was on Oct. 9, 2002, in the depths of the bear market, that the major indexes fell to their lowest levels in five and six years -- the Dow closed that day at 7,286.27.

The Dow has recovered faster from the stock market's troubles than the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have done. All three indexes peaked in early 2000 before dropping precipitously, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq suffered more because of the heavy representation of high-tech issues among their stocks.

The S&P 500 is getting closer to its peak of 1,527.46, but the Nasdaq, which was bloated by its vast number of tech stocks, remains well below its high of 5,048.62.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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