Dow Briefly Tops 34,000 as Bulls Feast on Earnings, Retail Sales By

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By Yasin Ebrahim – The Dow hit a record, briefly topping 34,000 milestone Thursday, as a double whammy of surging retail sales and corporate earnings that beat estimates triggered bullish bets on stocks.

The rose 0.76%, or 256 points, and briefly topping 34,000 for the first time ever. The rose 0.90%, to a record high of 4,169.00, and the was up 1.1%.

Retail sales rose 9.8%, the largest monthly gain since last May, in a further sign that the U.S. consumer, awash with stimulus cash, remains in good shape.

“The combo of stimulus checks, good weather and the reopening propelled retail sales 9.8% m/m in March. This is second largest monthly gain on record, eclipsed only by last May’s 18.3% increase,” Jefferies (NYSE:) said.

The backdrop of a healthy consumer has also been supported by an improving labor market.

U.S. jobless claims fell to 576,000 last week from 769,000 the prior week, a much larger decline than the 700,000 expected.

As well as upbeat economic data, the trend of better-than-expected earnings from Wall Street banks also supported investor sentiment on stocks.

Bank of Citigroup , BlackRock (NYSE:), and US Bancorp (NYSE:) were among the notable quarterly reports.

Citigroup (NYSE:) quarterly earnings garnered the most attention after the bank laid out a plan to sell its retail banking operations in Asia and eastern Europe to focus on wealth management.

Elsewhere, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:) raised its annual guidance and first-quarter results that topped estimates on both the top and bottom lines, sending its shares up more than 3%.

PepsiCo (NASDAQ:) also delivered a first-quarter earnings beat as its organic sales of 2.4% beat estimates.

Tech, meanwhile, extended its gains from a day earlier as investors appear to be gearing up for strong earnings from megacap tech.

Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:), Facebook (NASDAQ:), (NASDAQ:), Microsoft (NASDAQ:), and Apple (NASDAQ:) traded near all-time highs.

Still, there are some regulatory clouds forming around big tech as the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved a report accusing Big Tech companies of antitrust behavior, paving the blueprint for legislation to rein in the tech behemoths.

In other news, Coinbase Global (NASDAQ:) fell 2% following a sharp rally on its trading debut Wednesday, but the cryptocurrency platform has caught the attention of famed fund manager Cathie Woods as ARK took a $250 million position in the stock a day earlier.