S&P 500 also closes at a record high
Dow surges past 26,000 thanks to earnings optimism
US stocks jumped on Wednesday and the Dow closed above 26,000 for the first time as investors' expectations for higher earnings lifted stocks across sectors.
The Dow also hit an all-time high in intraday trading. It had briefly reached the 26,000 milestone on Tuesday, in its fastest 1,000-point rise to date, before dropping back below that threshold.
The S&P 500 posted a record closing high. It has gained 4.8 per cent this year, posting only two sessions of losses. More than three-quarters of the 36 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far have topped earnings estimates, according to Thomson Reuters .
Outlooks for future earnings are rosy as well, due to the lower corporate tax rates passed in December.
"With any significant policy action, there's an initial pop in the market, but then it sits and digests it," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer of Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Massachusetts.
"Now we're starting to get earnings guidance ... At that point, the market starts to incorporate it as 'Yes, this is actually happening' as opposed to 'Well, this might happen'."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 322.79 points, or 1.25 per cent, to 26,115.65, the S&P 500 gained 26.14 points, or 0.94 per cent, to 2,802.56 and the Nasdaq Composite added 74.59 points, or 1.03 per cent, to 7,298.28.
Boeing jumped 4.7 per cent after the company announced a joint venture with car seating leader Adient to make aircraft seats.
IBM rose 2.9 per cent after Barclays analysts upgraded the stock two notches to "overweight" and hiked its price target by US$59 to $192.
Several companies, however, saw their shares trade lower after underwhelming earnings reports and forecasts.
Banks seesawed as Goldman Sachs and Bank of America reported disappointing results. The S&P 500 banks subsector fell in earlier intraday trading but ended Wednesday up 0.6 per cent.
Bank of America was down 0.2 per cent after a $2.9 billion one-time tax charge nearly halved its reported profit.
Goldman Sachs fell 1.9 per cent after posting its first quarterly loss in six years on tax-related charges and a sharp drop in trading revenue.
Ford tumbled 7 per cent after the automaker reported full-year profit below estimates and provided a downbeat forecast.
General Electric slipped 4.7 per cent, extending losses from Tuesday, when it announced more than $11bn in charges.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.85-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.83-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 86 new 52-week highs and six new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 107 new highs and 31 new lows.
Volume on US exchanges was 7.4bn shares, compared to the 6.31bn average over the last 20 trading days.