Dow touches 23,000 for the first time, closes at record

  • The Dow reached 23,000 for the first time. The index first closed above 22,000 on Aug. 2.
  • Boeing and Caterpillar were the biggest points contributors on the Dow since Aug. 2, when the index first broke above 22,000.
  • On Tuesday, the index was buoyed by UnitedHealth, which reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose on Tuesday, and broke above 23,000 for the first time on an intraday basis.

The index faded and closed three points shy of 23,000 as bank shares rolled over.

The Dow first crossed 22,000 for the first time just 76 days ago.

"Those big, round numbers are getting easier to reach on the Dow on a percentage basis," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. "That's great because every time we get a milestone like that, it seems like Mainstream America pays more attention to financial markets."

Boeing and Caterpillar were the biggest points contributors on the Dow since Aug. 2, when the index first broke above 22,000. They added 142 points and 121 points, respectively. The two stocks have had a stellar year, rising 65.9 percent and 41.2 percent, respectively.

Home Depot and Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, contributed 97 points and 87 points to the Dow's latest 1,000-point run.

"We've had a very strong rally and we're now digesting it," said Marc Chaikin, CEO of Chaikin Analytics. "In general, I think we're going to finish the year on a very strong note."

On Tuesday, the Dow closed 40.41 points higher at 22,997.44, buoyed by shares of UnitedHealth and Johnson & Johnson. The index also posted intraday and closing records.

"I think the question here at 23,000 is: Is this a breakout or a fake-out?" said Jeff Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James. "I think this is a fake-out."

"Very short-term, I think we're trying to form a trading top," Saut said.

UnitedHealth reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast, helped by growth across all its businesses. Shares of the largest U.S. health insurer rose 5.5 percent to hit an all-time high.

Johnson & Johnson also reported better-than-expected quarterly results, driven by its pharmaceutical business and its recent acquisition of Swiss biotech Actelion and other businesses. The company's stock rose more than 3.4 percent and hit an all-time high.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to 2,559.36, clinching intraday and closing all-time highs.

Shares of Morgan Stanley hit levels not seen since May 2008. The company's wealth management business posted strong quarterly results.

Goldman Sachs' stock slipped 2.6 percent; it briefly traded higher after its third-quarter earnings and revenue beat Wall Street expectations. Fixed income trading revenue totaled $1.45 billion, a 26 percent year-over-year drop, but was enough to top a StreetAccount estimate of $1.38 billion.

JPMorgan touched an all-time high earlier in the day before it also rolled over.

The Nasdaq composite 0.01 percent to 6,623.66 after shares of streaming giant Netflix pulled back 1.6 percent. Netflix posted better-than-expected earnings and revenue, boosted by stronger-than-expected subscriber growth. The stock hit a record high before retreating.

This earnings season is off to a good start. As of Tuesday morning, 82 percent of the companies that had reported topped Wall Street earnings estimates, while 76 percent had surpassed revenue estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We've had some good earnings reports and third-quarter estimates continue to go higher," said Mike Baele, managing director at U.S. Bank Private Client Reserve. "I think we're poised to have another good earnings season."

Equities reached record highs on Monday as the three major indexes continue their steady grind higher.

Hopes of U.S. tax reform have received a boost lately after the House passed a $4.1 trillion budget. The Senate is expected to vote on a budget bill later this week.

"The market has done a lot already," said Crit Thomas, global market strategist at Touchstone Investments. "I feel the market is responding to the GOP's acceptance of deficit-widening in order to get their tax cuts."

—CNBC's Gina Francolla, Nick Wells, Christopher Hayes and Reuters contributed to this report.