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The Dow jumped across the 22,000 marker for the first time Wednesday, and a wave of earnings news Thursday could keep it going.
The Dow crossed 22,000 107 trading days after it crossed 21,000, on March 1. Since then, Boeing has contributed more than 370 points of its gain; McDonald's 180 points and UnitedHealth, 170 points.
Dozens of companies are expected to release earnings Thursday morning in one of the last big waves of the earnings season. They include Allergan, Duke Energy, Hyatt, Church and Dwight, Noble Energy, Teva, Clorox, Yum Brands, Aetna, Sotheby's, Kellogg, AmerisourceBergen, Apache, and Chesapeake Energy. After the bell, reports are expected from Kraft Heinz, Viacom, Activision Blizzard, and Shake Shack.
With the earnings season coming to an end, however, some analysts are looking to the void after Labor Day when the market could be vulnerable to the seasonality of late summer. They are also keeping an eye on the Nasdaq, which slumped after an initial pop on the opening, but then closed the day unchanged. Some technical analysts say the Nasdaq shows signs of reaching a top.
The earnings season has been a good catalyst, even for market skeptics. According to Thomson Reuters, earnings are now expected to be up about 11.4 percent, compared to expectations of 8 percent on July 1. Seventy-two percent of companies have beaten earnings estimates.
David Bianco, chief investment strategist Americas at Deutsche Asset Management, said the market could see a pullback in early September, but it would be helped if Congress were to show signs of working on tax cuts.
"Without the tax cut, there's not much upside," Bianco said. He said low interest rates are helping with the market's multiples, but not doing much for the financial sector, which does better with rising rates.
"I sit there and keep watching the actual fundamentals, meaning the earnings, and at the moment it's hard to get too negative. Apple was braced for disappointment. That's why you get a pop out of it," said Bill Stone, chief investment officer at PNC Wealth Management.
Apple Computer zoomed to a new high Wednesday and closed up 4.7 percent at $157.14. The stock held on to most of its gains even when tech waffled. The Nasdaq ended the day up less than 1 point at 6,362. The was up 1 at 2,477. The Dow, boosted by Apple, hit an all-time closing high of 22,016 and was up 52 points.
The market has a few economic reports to consider Thursday but is already anticipating Friday's jobs report, expected to show 183,000 nonfarm payrolls and a 4.3 percent unemployment rate, according to Thomson Reuters. Average earnings are expected to rise by 0.3 percent.
Jobs data has been strong, but some recent data has been spotty. "It's not enough to change the picture yet. ISM manufacturing was okay, and I know the sentiment [data] is running a little bit hotter than the real economy [data]," Stone said.
"We generally have seen a pretty decent pickup in things. I don't think this is any sort of signal," Stone said. "Vehicle sales were a little shy of expectations. ... Chinese PMI came in better. Global stuff looks a bit better. At least the U.S. economy has a bit of a tail wind, rather than fighting a headwind all the time."
Thursday's data includes weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. and ISM nonmanufacturing at 10 a.m. Factory orders are also released at 10 a.m.