Everybody loves a big, round number, especially in the stock market and especially when that number is climbing higher rather than plunging lower.
Investors have endured both over the past seven years, watching as the widely watched Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed past 14,000 then quickly tumbled lower. First 13,000 (November 2007), then 12,000 (June 2008)...then a blazing trail all the down below 7,000 (March 2009) at the height of the financial crisis.
Then the recovery...the leap over 10,000 (November 2009), then past the old highs and onto a succession of new records that has the bluechip index knocking at the door of another milestone.
Though the market's stubbed its toe in recent days, the break of 18,000 seemed almost an afterthought. The market finally reached that mark Tuesday after revised data showed the economy grew at 5 percent in the third quarter, its strongest rate in 11 years.
But now what?