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3-Dow peak: buy or sell sign?

February 15, 2007|Tom Petruno | Times Staff Writer

The Dow industrial, transportation and utility stock indexes all hit record highs on Wednesday, something that has occurred only 19 other times in history.

So is it a good sign for the bull market -- or a warning that prices are topping out? The record suggests more gains ahead.

The last time the three indexes simultaneously reached new highs was on March 17, 1998. The bull market of that period continued for two years after that, although the big gains were mostly in tech stocks that subsequently crashed in 2000.

The other Dow index hat tricks, according to Dow Jones & Co., keeper of the indexes:

* April 16, 1993. The market continued to rally for 10 months after that, before tripping when the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates early in 1994.

* Twice in 1985, and seven times in February and March of 1986. The market rose modestly the rest of 1986, then rocketed in 1987 -- until it crashed in October of '87.

* Twice in 1964. The bull market of that era continued to run until early 1966.

* Six times in 1929. In retrospect, those simultaneous record highs for the three indexes look like a succession of warnings. The market surged until September 1929, when it peaked, then crashed -- giving way to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

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