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The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through another big milestone today, finishing above 22,000 for the first time in history. The surge comes at a time when unemployment is low and confidence in the economy is high. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.
JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: President Trump's election last fall was supposed to send the market tanking, but the opposite has happened. The Dow is up more than 20 percent since November 8 and 11 percent so far this year. And the president was quick to take a victory lap this morning after the Dow broke 22,000.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So we have a lot of things happening that are really great. But again, today the stock market hit the highest level that it has ever been, and our country is doing very well.
ZARROLI: What's driving stocks higher is a matter of speculation. Brad McMillan is chief financial officer at Commonwealth Financial Network. He says the Trump administration may deserve some credit. The focus on deregulation has probably made businesses feel more confident. But mostly, he says, it's just plain old fundamentals. Consumers are upbeat. Corporate profits are strong. The job market is doing well.
BRAD MCMILLAN: We've seen unemployment drop to levels we haven't seen in a long time. You combine that with low gas prices, a sense that the economy's doing well, as exemplified by the stock market. People are feeling pretty good.
ZARROLI: But Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, is skeptical about how much credit the White House deserves. He says a Trump bump did occur in the month after the election. For instance, there was a widespread expectation that taxes would be cut. So suddenly demand for municipal bonds, which are tax-free, fell. But now municipal bonds are back up. Ablin says the euphoria has faded because of the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington. He says other factors are driving stocks higher. One is the falling dollar, which is making American goods a lot cheaper overseas.
JACK ABLIN: Caterpillar, for example, had record earnings, some fantastic earnings this last quarter, a lot of it due to the fact that their business is in the emerging world in Asia. There's a lot of demand over there.
ZARROLI: European and Asian economies have finally rebounded. That's been especially good for the kind of blue chip American companies that do a lot of business overseas such as McDonald's, Boeing and Apple, which just last night recorded a better-than-expected sales forecast. And that is driving the Dow higher. Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.
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