NEW YORK, JUNE 1 -- The Dow industrial average crashed through the 2900 mark today, gaining 24 points for the day in a week that saw the bluechip index extend its late spring rally by 80 points.
Although the Dow whipsawed violently at the opening as short-term traders tried to catch the significance of the latest unemployment numbers, calmer trading prevailed throughout the balance of the session as performance-conscious money managers felt increasingly pressured into a relentlessly rising market.
Beyond the crosscurrents of economic interpretation, traders were particularly cheered by the confidence of the market, which shrugged off the kind of single-stock price disaster that had poisoned the atmosphere on several recent sessions.
Today's casualty was athletic-footwear specialist L.A. Gear, whose stock plummeted 25 percent on disappointing earnings, much as Adobe Systems shares had been hammered the Friday before. But unlike last week, when the Dow was dragged down 34 points on the basis of one stock's performance, today's L.A. Gear debacle was contained, traders said.
At the close, the Dow stood at an all-time high of 2900.97, up 24.31, although advances outpaced declines on the Big Board by a ratio of 5 to 4. New York Stock Exchange volume was moderately heavy at 187 million shares. Bond and stock traders were taking different meaning from the government report that the nation added relatively few new permanent jobs in May, with the bond market outperforming stocks for most of the day.
Bond players were seen as more preoccupied with the near-term investment horizon, which suggests at least the possibility of lower interest rates in reaction to sluggish employment expansion.
Stock players, however -- other than the hot-money program-trading crowd -- could be viewed as entertaining somewhat longer-term concerns tied to the continued slow erosion of corporate profits amid a potentially stagnating economy.
Many analysts suggested that it was the sheer terror of being left behind by a runaway stock market that had many portfolio managers methodically bidding for equities today, rather than any rosy forecasts about interest rates and the U.S. economy. They quoted widely circulated statistics about the incessant influx of public cash into equity mutual funds last month.
Some traders suggested that volume was pushed up not only by futures-oriented programmed trading, but also by asset-reallocation trading, as some institutional fund managers have shuffled stock and bond mixes in their portfolios based on computer analysis of their own preferred economic models.
The Dow transports rose 18.62 to 1190.15 with help from a 3.5 rise to 159 in UAL Corp. The utilities, however, only edged 0.32 higher to 211.71.
Among broad stock indexes, the S&P 500 was up 1.93 at 363.16, the NYSE Composite up 1.09 at 198.03, the Value Line up 1.39 at 288.36, the Amex Market Value up 0.77 at 363.83 and the Nasdaq Composite up 3.16 at 462.13.