Experts say investors should keep in mind that the surest way to profit in the stock market is to invest for the long term. Buying for just a week or a month at a time is a risky bet.
Beyond talk of milestones, there's also the question of whether the Dow is even an accurate measure of the economy. Besides being made up of just 30 companies, it's weighted so that the few with the highest stock prices carry the most heft.
So a small percentage change in the stock of IBM, which is trading around $198, sways the index much more than a large change in the stock of Bank of America, which is trading around $8.
Last year, the Dow rose 5.5 percent. But strip out IBM and McDonald's, the two stocks with the highest prices last year, and it rose just 1.8 percent, according to calculations by Birinyi.
Plenty of analysts say the Standard & Poor's 500, given its much broader list of companies, is a better measure of the market. While the Dow would need a 9 percent rally to reach its all-time high of 14,164.53, the S&P 500 is still 15 percent away.
It did close Friday at 1,365.74, a 3 1/2-year high and about 200 points from its all-time high in October 2007.
"The Dow has only 30 members," says John Manley, chief equity strategist for the Wells Fargo funds group. "Sometimes their individual stories bury the message that the economy is trying to send us."
So in a way, it will be a bigger deal if the S&P breaks 1,400. But nobody makes baseball caps for that.
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