The Dow closed above 14,000 Friday for the first time in more than five years.
It was just a number on a board, but it was enough to raise the hopes of some investors and cause others concern about an overheated market. And it brought reminders of a different era, back before the financial crisis rocked the world economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average had been rising fairly steadily for about a month. Friday, strong auto sales in January and optimism about U.S. job growth pushed it over the mark; it rose 149.21 points to close at 14,009.79. The Dow is now just 155 points away from its record close.
"There's a newfound enthusiasm for the equity market," said Jim Russell, regional investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
Before Friday, the Dow had closed above 14,000 just nine times in its history.
The first was in July 2007. The last time the Dow closed above that mark was Oct. 12, 2007, when it settled at 14,093.08. It had reached its record, 14,164.53, three days before that.
Other indexes also rose Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 1.01 percent to 1,513.17. The Nasdaq composite index was up 1.18 percent to 3,179.10.
The government jobs report that pushed stocks forward was mixed, but traders chose to focus on the positive. The United States said it added 157,000 jobs in January, which was in line with expectations.
Unemployment inched up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in December.
Many economists, though, were encouraged because the government now says that hiring over the past year was higher than originally thought.
The jobs number is based on a survey of employers. The unemployment rate is based on a separate survey of households, which is why the numbers can diverge.