Traders took their profits after the Dow crossed the mark.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Dow Jones industrial average briefly swept past 12,000 for the first time Wednesday, extending its march into record territory as investors grow increasingly optimistic about corporate earnings and the economy. The blue chip average rose to a new closing high, but fell just short of the 12,000 mark.
The index of 30 big-name stocks surpassed the milestone just after trading began, rising as high as 12,049.51, before pulling back as the market's initial wave of enthusiasm dissipated and investors cashed in some of their gains. The fact that the markets didn't barrel higher shows some healthy caution particularly given that many companies have yet to report third-quarter results.
It took the Dow 7 1/2 years to make the trip from 11,000, having been pummeled during that time by the dot-com bust, recession and the aftermath of the 2001 terror attacks. That slow trek was a striking contrast with the Dow's sprint from 10,000 to 11,000 in just 24 days in the spring of 1999, during the heady days of the Internet boom.
Movement this month
The Dow, whose stocks include blue chips such as International Business Machines Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., has risen 312 points so far this month as oil prices retreated below 60 a barrel and it appeared the economy was headed for a soft landing after more than two years of interest rate increases. The Dow had already set closing records seven times during the past two weeks.
The Dow's quick move past 12,000 Wednesday came after a Labor Department report indicated consumer price pressures are leveling off and third-quarter earnings reports from companies including IBM bolstered investors' confidence.
The Dow closed up 42.66, or 0.36 percent, at 11,992.68.
Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Standard & amp; Poor's 500 index was up 1.91, or 0.14 percent, at 1,365.96, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 7.80, or 0.33 percent, to 2,337.15.