The Dow started with its best January since 1997 and has added to that gain. The index is up 6.5 percent for the young year. Other averages have fared even better: The Standard & Poor’s 500 is up 9 percent, the Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks is up 11 percent, and the Nasdaq composite index, dominated by technology stocks, is up 14 percent. The other major indexes sit at multi-year highs as well. The S&P closed Tuesday at its highest level since June 2008, and the Nasdaq has not traded so high since December 2000, during the bursting of the bubble in technology stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average rode a surge of confidence in the economy Tuesday to close above 13,000, a threshold it last crossed four months before the financial crisis of 2008 and the darkest days of the Great Recession. The milestone extended a strong rally in stocks since the start of the year, and it came after a fitful week in which the Dow repeatedly floated above 13,000 only to fall back by the end of the trading day. The Dow closed at 13,005.12, a close enough call that the gain of a single stock, Johnson & Johnson, made the difference. The Dow last closed above 13,000 in May 2008, four months before the fall of the Lehman Brothers investment bank and the worst of the crisis.
By Daniel Wagner, Feb. 28, 2012 AP Business Writer, Denver Post

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(Graphic shows the Dow Jones industrial average since 2007 with annotations)