By Corrie Driebusch and Akane Otani

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 19000 for the first time, extending a stretch of milestones for major U.S. stock indexes.

The index of 30 companies flirted with the level off throughout the day Tuesday, before closing at 19024. It was Nov. 4 when the blue-chip index last closed below 18000. Since then, a rally following the U.S. presidential election has benefited, in particular, the shares of industrial companies and banks, bolstering the Dow.

That has led to an unusual dynamic: the Dow industrials are on track to post a stronger yearly performance than the S&P 500 for the first time since 2011.The stampede into sectors that have lifted the Dow to new heights "happened so quickly and so parabolically," said Rob Bartenstein, chief executive of Kestra Private Wealth Services, who added that he was surprised the index hit the 19000 level just weeks after the election.

The Dow's late-year surge is also at odds with the index's performance at the start of the year. In January, worries about slowing economic growth in China and its possible spillover effects sent the blue-chip index to its worst-ever five-day start to a year.

U.S. economic data have since improved, and investors have re-embraced stocks. The election of Donald Trump also renewed demand for shares of companies tied to economic growth, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

Banks also are new stock-market darlings, as investors have bet on loosened regulation under Mr. Trump as well as higher interest rates. All but one of the 24 banks listed on the KBWNasdaq Bank Index has hit a 52-week high since the Nov. 8 election, according to the WSJ Market Data Group.

Since Election Day, the Dow industrials were up 3.4% through Monday's close, while the S&P 500 was up 2.7%. Goldman Sachs Group contributed nearly 200 points of the Dow's 624-point gain in that time.

"People are now thinking the glass is half full," said Jimmy Chang, chief investment strategist at Rockefeller & Co., referring to the stock market's postelection rally. Talk about tax cuts, looser regulation and infrastructure spending are contributing to investors' optimism, he added.

The Dow industrials are now up 9.2% so far this year, while the S&P 500 is up 7.8%.

On Tuesday, the Dow industrials rose 67 points, or 0.35%, to 19024. The S&P 500 added 0.2% to 2203 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3% to 5386 -- fresh records for all three.

Tuesday's gains added to a spate of recent milestones for U.S. stocks. OnMonday, the three indexes -- plus the Russell 2000 index of small-capitalization stocks -- closed at records.

The strength in the recent rally belies the lack of clarity about the policy implications of a Trump administration, some analysts say.

"There's always the danger that you jump to conclusions way too fast because a lot of these expected benefits will take time to pan out," Mr. Chang said.

Other possible contributors to stock-market swings could include an acceleration in the recent selloff in bonds, a strengthening dollar weighing on corporate earnings, or the Trump administration enacting protectionist policies that could hurt multinational companies, some analysts and traders said.

The dollar -- which had rallied for 10 consecutive sessions through Monday as investors bet on U.S. growth -- inched higher again Tuesday. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, rose 0.1%.

The dollar also has gained as traders have become all but certain that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise rates next month. Fed funds futures, a popular tool for traders to bet on U.S. interest-rate policy, show a 94% probability that the Fed lifts rates next month, according to data from CME Group.

Meanwhile, a postelection selloff in government bonds paused, sending yields lower Tuesday.

Investors have dumped long-term government debt as expectations of higher rates and inflation have made assets with fixed returns less attractive.

Some of that selling pressure eased Tuesday. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.319% from 2.335% Monday. That compares with a close of 1.867% on Election Day.

Earlier, the Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.2%. The Nikkei Stock Average recovered to close up 0.3%, after falling in response to a 6.9-magnitude earthquake that struck off the eastern coast of Japan early Tuesday. Australia's energy-heavy S&P ASX/200 rose 1.2%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 1.4%.

Write to Corrie Driebusch at corrie.driebusch@wsj.com and Akane Otani at akane.otani@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 22, 2016 16:48 ET (21:48 GMT)

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