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Dow rises 103 points, notches record close as Street bets on strong economy

  • The U.S. economy has picked up steam this year, growing at an annualized rate of more than 3 percent each of the past two quarters.
  • Regional banks hit an all-time high, as the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) surged 3.3 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at an all-time high on Wednesday as investors bet the U.S. economy's momentum would continue.

The U.S. economy has picked up steam this year, growing at an annualized rate of more than 3 percent each of the past two quarters.

"There's a lot of momentum" in the U.S. economy and that's being reflected in stocks, said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. "I can't think of anything other than a black-swan event that would derail it."

The Commerce Department released its second read on third-quarter U.S. GDP, which showed the economy expanded at an annualized rate of 3.3 percent. The number matched estimates and surpassed an initial read of 3.0 percent growth.

UnitedHealth and JPMorgan Chase were the best-performing stocks in the Dow, which jumped 103.97 points to close at 23,940.68.

A trader wears a Dow 20,000 hat as he works on the main trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly before the opening bell of the trading session in New York, U.S., January 25, 2017.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
A trader wears a Dow 20,000 hat as he works on the main trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly before the opening bell of the trading session in New York, U.S., January 25, 2017.

The S&P 500 hit an intraday record, but finished just below the flatline at 2,626.07 as a decline in tech stocks offset a strong performance from the financials sector. The tech sector fell 2.6 percent, while financials surged 1.8 percent.

"There has been some group rotation happening," said Marc Chaikin, CEO of Chaikin Analytics. "Yesterday you saw financials break out of a four-week downtrend and today they're up again."

Regional banks hit an all-time high, as the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) surged 3.3 percent.

Retailers rose broadly on Wednesday, following a strong start to the holiday shopping season. The SPDR S&P Retail exchange-traded fund (XRT) rose 2.5 percent as shares of Macy's and Nordstrom rose 8.2 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively.

The Nasdaq composite lagged the Dow and S&P 500, closing 1.3 percent lower at 6,824.34 as Facebook, Netflix, and Alphabet all fell sharply.

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all hit record highs on Tuesday, boosted by hopes the GOP-led Congress would be able to pass tax-reform legislation and by testimony from Federal Reserve Chair nominee Jerome Powell.

The Senate Budget Committee approved the Senate's tax plan on Tuesday, bringing the upper chamber closer to a floor vote, which is expected to take place Thursday. Regarding Powell, he said current regulations on the financials sector are "tough enough," adding he supports the "tailoring" of some regulations to ease the burden on small banks.

In corporate news, Chipotle Mexican Grill said it has begun searching for a new CEO, with current Chief Executive Steve Ells becoming executive chairman. The fast-casual restaurant's stock jumped 5.6 percent.

Meanwhile, analysts at Morgan Stanley upgraded shares of Allergan to overweight from equal weight, noting that "fears about a 'better Botox' may be overdone." Allergan's stock rose 2.2 percent.