Stocks rallied past two psychological barriers Monday morning, pushing the Dow Jones industrial average over 16,000 and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index beyond 1,800 for the first time, as investors still saw opportunities in the market.
Those round numbers were not important in themselves. Adjusted for inflation, the market remains below the peak it reached earlier in the decade. And by the end of the day, the market averages had retreated somewhat, with the Dow closing up slightly and the S&P reversing course and ending down.
But those easily remembered strings of zeros represented new benchmarks for a stock market that has already soared more than 160 percent since it hit bottom in March 2009. And they might entice investors who have been late to the party to enter it now, even if prices are no longer as cheap as they were a few years ago.