By Aaron Kuriloff and Corrie Driebusch

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 20000 for the first time, the latest milestone in the U.S. stock market's postelection rally.

If the blue-chip index of 30 stocks closes above the mark Wednesday, it will be the second-fastest thousand-point gain after it took 24 trading days to climb from 10000 to 11000 during the dot-com boom in 1999.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 148 points, or 0.7%, to 20061 Wednesday. The S&P 500 added 0.6% and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.7%.

The Dow industrials have soared since Election Day, buoyed by investors' bets that the administration of President Donald Trump will pursue policies such as tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and infrastructure spending that could improve the outlook for U.S. companies.

The index has risen more than 9% since Nov. 8, notching several highs, and closed above 19000 for the first time ever Nov. 22. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both closed at records Tuesday.

The gains also came as earnings from companies including banks highlighted improving corporate profits and ongoing U.S. economic growth.

Boeing led gains in the Dow industrials Wednesday, rising 4.7% after the aerospace company beat expectations for earnings in the final quarter of the year.

Caterpillar, which makes construction and mining equipment, rose 2%, while J.P. Morgan Chase added 1.4% and Goldman Sachs gained 1.1% to push its postelection climb to roughly 30%. The KBW Nasdaq Bank Index of large U.S commercial lenders has gained about 23% since Election Day.

Boeing, Caterpillar and the two banks have been among the biggest contributors to the Dow's rise since Election Day.

Investors' surge into manufacturing companies pushed stocks higher Tuesday, as some bet that Mr. Trump's moves to revive oil-pipeline projects and cut regulations signaled the first steps toward clearing the way for a surge in infrastructure spending.

The sun had yet to rise over Los Angeles-based Wedbush Securities on Wednesday morning when the Dow industrials crossed the milestone.

"We were too busy to cheer," said Ian Winer, head of equities trading. As the Dow reached 20000, Mr. Winer said he started receiving lots of buy orders. "This kind of move draws people into the market," he said. "It feels like guys are saying, 'I've got to be there. I can't miss any more of this rally.'"

Haven assets were under pressure Wednesday, with selling in government bonds sending the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note up to 2.517%, according to Tradeweb, from 2.471% after its biggest daily rise of 2017. Gold fell 1.2% to $1,195.90 an ounce Wednesday.

On Monday, bonds rallied and stocks fell on concerns that Mr. Trump's protectionist approach on trade could hurt growth, before the president refocused attention on the possibility of increased fiscal spending Tuesday. That helped send bonds to their biggest one-day selloff in more than a month.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against 16 others, fell less than 0.1% Wednesday.

Stocks' surge has left some analysts and investors cautious. Much of the rally has been built on hopes for policies that may not emerge, or pan out as expected. And many investors worried stocks were expensive even beforethe postelection runup, given several recent quarters of weak earnings. Companies in the S&P 500 traded at roughly 21 times their past 12 months of earnings as of Tuesday, above their 10-year average of about 16, according to FactSet.

"On the one hand, it's great we're hitting all-time highs," said Brett Mock, managing director at brokerage JonesTrading Institutional Services LLC, referring to how major U.S. stock indexes are trading around records. "But skeptics will say if we're in record territory, how much further can we go? Are we seeing a top forming? Obviously no one knows the answer to that."

--Riva Gold contributed to this article.

Write to Aaron Kuriloff at aaron.kuriloff@wsj.com and Corrie Driebusch at corrie.driebusch@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 25, 2017 13:07 ET (18:07 GMT)

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