Wall Street was all smiles on Wednesday as the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 10,000 for the first time in just over a year, but investors on Main Streets in Minnesota and beyond viewed the psychological milestone as bittersweet.
After all, the first time the Dow broke the 10,000 barrier was in March 1999. And in the last tumultuous year, the global economy has been shaken to its core. For many people, a recovery remains elusive.
Grant Olson said his portfolio is rising, but Dow 10,000 hasn't changed the fact that he's had no luck selling his home in St. Anthony. And Dow 10,000 won't solve the problems of unemployment, health insurance and homelessness that continue to trouble Nathan Hunstad of Minneapolis.
Although Olson, a 38-year-old software developer, thinks recovery is probably on its way because a stock market rise tends to precede economic recovery by six months, he remains prepared for a rocky road ahead.
"I'm betting that the chance of it going back down to the 9,000 mark is pretty high," he said Wednesday.
Although agreeing that the Dow's ascent is not a cure-all, it "will help to settle down Main Street," said James Paulsen, chief investment strategist for Wells Capital Management. Paulsen has long believed that this has been a fear-driven recession and that investors have been more pessimistic than the numbers warranted.
The breadth of the current rally, which dates to March 9 when the Dow hit its bear-market low, also has inspired investor confidence. The blue-chip index surged nearly 145 points to close at 10,015.86 Wednesday on better-than-anticipated earnings from computer chip maker Intel Corp. and banking giant JP Morgan Chase. Fifteen of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow hit 52-week highs on Wednesday, including Minnesota-based 3M Co. The index closed up 1.47 percent for the day, 14.1 percent for the year-to-date and about 53 percent from its March 9 low.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Nasdaq index each had bigger one-day gains, closing up 1.75 and 1.51 percent, respectively. Both finished at 52-week highs. And the local Bloomberg Star Tribune 100 index of Minnesota's largest publicly held companies, also finished at a 52-week high, closing at 149.52, up 1.68 percent.
David Tysk, a private wealth adviser with Ameriprise Financial in Bloomington, said he's already seeing a difference among his clients.
"People have moved from a hopelessness and despair back in March to 'everything is going to be OK,'" he said. "People can see getting back to even now. It's in the sights. They still may be a ways away, but six months ago, it seemed like you would never get it back."
The Dow reached 10,000 sooner than David Chalupnik, head of equities for FAF Advisors of Minneapolis, anticipated, driven by improving economic indicators and "phenomenal" corporate results.
"With this amount of government involvement, this market is still ripping, and we are a bit surprised about that," he said. He expects the stock market to continue to rally through November and December, typically strong months for stocks.
Chalupnik also expects stocks to be driven higher by investors still on the sidelines who are tired of earning next to nothing in fixed-income investments and scared of missing out on the rally entirely.
"Money's going to chase performance," he said.
Roger Sit, global chief investment officer for Sit Mutual Funds in Minneapolis, is not so sure. "It's not like we're off to the races and things are fine again. ... The markets will continue to move up in a more modest, choppy manner."
While the stock market has soared since spring, Sit warns investors that it's not like the late 1990s, when a monkey could throw a dart and hit a winner.
"This is a stock picker's environment,'' he said. "You'd better do your homework."
After the whiplash of the past two years, Tysk says his clients have less tolerance for risk and spend their hard-earned money differently. "The sentiment has changed from an era of excess to an era of frugality. People feel better about being prudent with money where in the past it just felt better to go out and buy a handbag," he said.
Unlike Tysk's clients, 31-year-old Nathan Hunstad of Minneapolis hasn't changed his portfolio, because he's decades from retirement. "I'm just sitting tight," he said.
Kara McGuire • 612-673-7293