Wall Street notched another set of milestones today as the Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high for a 12th consecutive time.
The feat marked the longest winning streak for the 30-company average in 30 years.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, the benchmark favoured by professional investors, also closed at a record high.
The latest push into the record books came on an indecisive day for US stocks that sent indexes wavering between small gains and losses for much of the day.
They ultimately eked out tiny gains, led by energy stocks, which climbed as the price of crude oil rose. Phone companies lagged the most.
Many investors were taking a wait-and-see approach ahead of President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress on Tuesday, hoping for details of promised tax cuts, infrastructure spending and other business-friendly policies.
“It’s all about policy now,” said Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management.
“There’s only so much the market can deliver when there’s still these many unknowns, specifically the Washington impact is now as much a head wind as it is a tail wind.”
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.68 points, or 0.1%, to 20,837.44. The S&P 500 gained 2.39 points, or 0.1%, to 2,369.73. The Nasdaq composite index added 16.59 points, or 0.3%, to 5,861.90. Small-company stocks fared better than the other indexes, sending the Russell 2000 index up 13.44 points, or 1%, to 1,407.97.
The last time the Dow posted a longer winning streak was in early January 1987, when the average rose for 13 days in a row. That streak translated into a gain of 11% for the Dow. Nine months later, on October 19 1987, the Dow plummeted more than 500 points, or about 22%, on what became known as Black Monday.
Just because the Dow is on another lengthy winning streak does not mean a similar market slump is in the cards now, noted Ryan Detrick, a senior market strategist for LPL Financial.
One key difference is that the Dow went on to gain another 30% in the months after the 13-day streak in January 1987. By comparison, the Dow is now up about 5.4% this year, so there remains a long way to go before the market becomes as stretched as it was 30 years ago, Mr Detrick said.
“That isn’t to say a normal correction after the big surge since the US election isn’t possible, it is, but a major bear market correction is still something we’d call a low percentage scenario right now,” he said.
US stocks have benefited from the Trump administration’s promise of pro-business changes, but investors have become uneasy over how large and rapid those changes will be.
During a meeting with governors on Monday, Mr Trump noted that his upcoming budget would include a big boost to defence spending. The White House separately said that the budget would include a 54 billion dollar (£43.4 billion) increase in defence spending while imposing corresponding cuts to domestic programmes and foreign aid.
Talk of more defence spending gave a lift to defence contractors on Monday. Raytheon added 1.35 dollars, or 0.9%, to 154.83 dollars. Northrop Grumman gained 3.55 dollars, or 1.4%, to 248.60 dollars. Lockheed Martin climbed 5.18 dollars, or 2%, to 269.36 dollars.
Expectations that the Trump administration will ramp up infrastructure spending projects also gave materials companies a boost. Martin Marietta Materials rose 5.21 dollars, or 2.5%, to 215.26 dollars, while Vulcan Materials added 2.78 dollars, or 2.4%, to 120.60 dollars. Summit Materials gained 50 cents, or 2.1%, to 24.25 dollars.