Dow edges near record, then sputters; stocks down
Thursday's close means the Dow rose 1.4 percent in February — respectable, but a slowdown from its 5.8 percent gain in January.
The Dow milestone doesn't mean much in practical terms. It's an index of 30 big-name stocks, such as Disney and General Electric, that investors follow as a gauge of how the overall stock market is doing. But professional investors don't change their strategy because of it.
Even so, a Dow record would be important for psychological reasons: It can make people feel like the economy is doing better. That can induce them to spend and invest more. And it reminds people of a time before the financial crisis, which peaked in 2008.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at about 1.90 percent.
Among stocks making big moves:
—Groupon, the coupons website, plunged 24 percent after reporting late Wednesday that its quarterly loss had expanded. The stock fell $1.45 to $4.53.
—J.C. Penney fell 17 percent after the department store reported a higher-than-expected quarterly loss late Wednesday. The stock dropped $3.59 to $17.57.
— Wendy's, Domino's, clothing chain Chico's and energy drink maker Monster Beverage all rose after reporting higher profit and revenue.
—Barnes & Noble climbed 3 percent, up 51 cents to $15.74. The bookstore chain posted a loss, though its CEO confirmed that the company was still in talks with its founder about a partial buyout.