NEW YORK — Just two months after recovering the last of its losses from the financial crisis, the Dow Jones industrial average charged higher Tuesday, closing above 15,000 for the first time.
It was another milestone in the market’s epic ascent of 2013. Good economic reports, strong corporate earnings and fresh support from central banks have eased investors’ concerns about another economic slowdown. Many had been on the lookout for signs that a spring swoon would derail the rally, as happened in each of the past three years.
Instead, Wall Street has climbed almost 15 percent since Jan. 1.
“The thing that’s been driving stocks is rising confidence,” said James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management. “Economic growth, job creation and the housing market have been better than expected.”
News of stronger hiring over the past three months briefly propelled the Dow over 15,000 on Friday, but it ended the week below that mark.
Wall Street followed Japanese and European markets higher after they responded to good news about central bank stimulus and the German economy.
Japanese stocks surged, pushing the Nikkei above 14,000 for the first time in nearly five years. The Nikkei has jumped 36 percent this year after the Bank of Japan announced a new aggressive monetary policy to get the country out of its two-decade stagnation.
In Europe, Germany’s main DAX index touched a record of 8,195, buoyed by surprisingly strong industrial orders.
The Dow closed at 15,056.20, up 87.31 points, or 0.6 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 8.46 points to 1,625.96, a gain of 0.5 percent. Both indexes reached all-time highs earlier this year, then kept climbing, largely driven by optimism that the U.S. economy will continue gaining strength.
In other trading, the Nasdaq composite rose 3.66 points to 3,396.63, up 0.1 percent.
“We don’t think people are giving enough credit to the strength of the economy,” said Ryan Detrick, a senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. “We still like the market.”
The gains piled up with the growing realization among investors that the traditional threats to a rising market — higher interest rates, falling profits, a possible recession — are unlikely to appear anytime soon. What’s more, with interest rates near record lows, they see few other places to put their money.
On the economic front:
- U.S. employers posted fewer job openings in March compared with February and slowed overall hiring, underscoring a weak month of job growth. The Labor Department says job openings fell 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted 3.8 million jobs. Total hiring declined 4.3 percent to 4.3 million.
- A survey shows U.S. home prices rose 10.5 percent in March compared with a year ago, the biggest gain since March 2006. Core Logic, a real estate data provider, said annual home prices have now increased for 13 straight months. Prices are rising in part because more buyers are bidding on a limited supply of homes for sale.
- Americans cut back on using their credit cards in March, suggesting many were reluctant to take on high-interest debt to make purchases.
Record-high profits have also encouraged investors who fretted that slumping sales would lead to shrinking earnings. More than 400 of the S&P 500 companies have turned in first-quarter results, and more than seven out of 10 have beaten Wall Street’s earnings expectations, according to S&P Capital IQ. Those analysts estimate that earnings increased 5 percent in the first quarter and will pick up their pace through the rest of the year.
Detrick said he was particularly encouraged by the resurgence in smaller stocks, which suggested a broad recovery beyond larger companies.
In other news:
FOSSIL: The maker of watches and handbags, was among the companies reporting earnings Tuesday. Its stock leapt $8.92, or 9 percent, to $107.88 after the company said higher sales lifted its earnings.
DIRECTV: The country’s largest provider of satellite TV services surged $3.99, or 7 percent, to $61.95 after its earnings beat analysts’ expectations. The company reported more subscribers in the U.S. and Latin America.
YAHOO: A Yahoo regulatory filing disclosed Microsoft is maintaining a revenue-per-search guarantee through March 2014 as part of a partnership with Yahoo. Yahoo rose 90 cents, or 3.6 percent, to close Tuesday at $26.07. It’s the first time the stock has closed above $26 in nearly five years, continuing an upturn that began after Yahoo hired former Google executive Marissa Mayer as its CEO nearly 10 months ago. The shares have surged by 67 percent since Mayer’s arrival.
DISNEY: Revenue gains at Disney’s parks and movie studio led to a 32 percent increase in net income during the January-March quarter. The results, which topped analyst expectations Tuesday, showed that the company’s record-setting investments in a new cruise ship and multiple theme park upgrades last year are starting to pay off.
HERTZ: It is moving its headquarters from New Jersey to Florida, putting the company in the middle of a key travel market and trimming corporate expenses after its $2.3 billion buyout of one-time rival, Dollar Thrifty.