Dow: Longest bull run in 80 years

Blue-chip gauge matches 1927 record for longest up streak; Alcoa bid for Alcan, falling oil prices help.

By Alexandra Twin, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- The Dow industrials ended at another all-time high Monday, closing with gains for the 24th out of 27 sessions - a streak that matched an 80-year-old record on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average (up 48.35 to 13,312.97, Charts) gained nearly 0.4 percent after briefly hitting an intraday record of 13,317.69. It was the fifth straight record close for the average.


The broader S&P 500 (up 3.86 to 1,509.48, Charts) index rose about 0.3 percent, edging ever closer to its all-time high of 1,527.46. That record was hit in March 2000 at the tail end of the last rally, fueled by the 1990s tech boom.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite (down 1.20 to 2,570.95, Charts) fell a few points after ending last week at a six-year high.

Stocks have been on a roll lately, thanks to a mix of strong earnings and buyout news.

"We haven't had many gigantic up days, we're just nickel and diming our way up the ladder," said Ron Kiddoo, chief investment officer at Cozad Asset Management. "People are more tempted to take profits one day after the Dow went up 200 points, than one day after it gained 30 points."

The 30-share Dow has now risen 24 of the last 27 sessions, matching its longest bull run in history, hit during the summer of 1927, according to Dow Jones. Should the Dow end higher on Tuesday, it would set a new record.

Kiddoo said the run was partly in response to the positive earnings and merger news, but also partly since the market's gains have been mostly modest and volatility has been limited.

Blue chips managed gains from the get-go Monday as investors welcomed the day's merger news, including Alcoa's $27 billion hostile bid for Canadian rival Alcan.

Treasury prices slipped, the dollar and oil prices fell while gold rose.

"The market improvement we've seen over the last few months is a result of higher-than-expected corporate profits," said Richard Hoyt, portfolio manager at KDV Wealth Management. "The profits are a result of the still-strong market fundamentals."

Hoyt said investors are looking beyond any short-term questions about the strength of the economy and focusing on longer-term expectations.

With the Dow at an all-time high and the S&P 500 nearing one, the impact on investor sentiment is twofold, said Hoyt. Investors who've been on the sidelines will have a new reason to jump in for fear of missing out. But investors who've been burned when the market was at new highs will have a reason to step back.

No major economic reports were released Monday, but investors will be keeping an eye on the Federal Reserve's next policy meeting Wednesday.

Central bank policymakers are widely expected to keep a key short-term interest rate steady at 5.25 percent for the seventh meeting in a row, with a statement expected in the afternoon. As always, investors will be focused on what the statement means for the economy and Fed rate policy.

Ahead of that, investors take a look at the March wholesale inventories report Tuesday and the weekly crude oil inventories report Wednesday morning.

Monday brought its share of merger news and rumors, continuing the recent trend of weekend and early-week company announcements.

Dow component Alcoa (up $2.97 to $38.63, Charts, Fortune 500), the world's largest aluminum producer, made a hostile bid worth $27 billion in cash and stock for No. 2 rival Alcan (up $21.08 to $82.11, Charts).

Alcoa shares jumped 8.3 percent, while Alcan soared 34.5 percent.

Over the weekend, Armor Holdings (up $4.45 to $86.60, Charts) agreed to be bought by British defense contractor BAE Systems for $4.1 billion. Armor shares gained 5 percent.

Liberty Mutual, a privately-owned insurer, agreed to buy Ohio Casualty (up $9.85 to $43.17, Charts) for $2.7 billion in cash.

Meanwhile, Warren Buffett said his Berkshire Hathaway (Charts, Fortune 500) is open to making a major $5 billion to $20 billion investment in a "huge" business. (Full story)

Among tech stocks, Yahoo (down $0.60 to $30.38, Charts, Fortune 500) dipped after surging Friday on rumors that Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500) was looking to buy it in an effort to take on Google (Charts, Fortune 500).

Market breadth was mixed. On the New York Stock Exchange, winners topped losers 6 to 5 on volume of 1.3 billion shares. On the Nasdaq, decliners edged advancers 8 to 7 on volume of 1.68 billion shares.

Treasury prices ticked higher, lowering the yield on the 10-year note to 4.63 percent from 4.64 percent late Friday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

In currency trading, the dollar slipped against the euro and the yen.

U.S. light crude oil for June delivery fell 46 cents to settle at $61.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

COMEX gold rose 60 cents to settle at $690.30 an ounce. Top of page

-- staff writers Rob Kelley and Grace Wong contributed to this report.