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While you were sleeping: UPDATED Dow renews run at 20,000 milestone

Wall Street's blue-chip benchmark added 113 points as industrial stocks rallied.

Margreet Dietz
Wed, 25 Jan 2017

Wall Street rose amid better than expected corporate earnings that boosted materials and industrial stocks.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 112.86 points, or 0.6%, to 19,912.71, just 87 points from the never-reached 20,000 milestone.

The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.9% to reach 5600.96 for the first time while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.7% to 2280.07, its highest-ever close.

"I believe the market's focus has shifted a bit back to fundamentals and the fourth-quarter earnings season, which at this point has started off on a reasonably positive note," US Bank private client group chief investment officer Bill Northey told Reuters.

Gains in DuPont and IBM shares, up 4.5% and 2.3% respectively, led the Dow higher. Meanwhile, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson dropped, down 4.5% and 2.1% respectively, for the largest percentage declines in the Dow.

DuPont-Dow Chemical merger still on
DuPont posted fourth-quarter profit that bettered analysts' expectations. It also reassured investors that its merger with Dow Chemical remains on track, even as the deal is now expected to close in the first half of the year, later than previously expected as the companies address concerns of antitrust regulators.

"We look forward to closing the merger with Dow and are continuing to have constructive discussions with regulators in key jurisdictions," chief executive Ed Breen says. "We now expect the merger to close in the first half of 2017, pending regulatory approval."

Dow Chemical shares traded 3.6% higher.

Mr Breen's comments on a conference call to discuss the company's results helped reassure investors that DuPont can satisfy regulators, Matt Arnold, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co, told Bloomberg.

"People feel better after hearing the company talk through what is going on," Mr Arnold says. "Its conversations with regulators seem to be going well."

House sales fall
Meanwhile, a National Association of Realtors report showed sales of previously owned US homes slid more than forecast last month. Even so, sales for the full year were the highest since 2006.

Existing sales dropped 2.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million in December from an upwardly revised 5.65 million in November.

"Solid job creation throughout last year and exceptionally low mortgage rates translated into a good year for the housing market," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says.

"However, higher mortgage rates and home prices combined with record low inventory levels stunted sales in much of the country in December."

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.3% advance from the previous close, bolstered by gains in mining stocks.

France's CAC 40 Index rose 0.2%, while Germany's DAX Index added 0.4%. The UK's FTSE 100 Index ended the day little changed from the previous close.



Margreet Dietz
Wed, 25 Jan 2017
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While you were sleeping: UPDATED Dow renews run at 20,000 milestone