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The Dow Jones Industrial Average breached the 40,000-point level for the first time ever on Thursday, its fastest 10,000-point climb, powered by strong quarterly results and rising bets of interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

The blue-chip index surpassed its previous record high of 39,935.04, hit on Wednesday, and has recovered nearly 40% from its October 2022 lows. At 10:40 a.m. ET, the Dow was up 0.2 per cent, at 39,992.67.

"Breaking the 40,000 barrier is a big psychological boost for the bulls as round numbers hold special significance in people's hearts and minds," Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance, said in a note.

"We are in a Bull Market and people are showing some irrational exuberance (meme stocks) and dismissing bad news (slowing retail sales) and focusing on good news (slightly slowing inflation)." US stock markets have climbed since the start of the year, as investors bet on an AI-led rally, robust earnings and hopes that the central bank will ease monetary policy this year.

All three major US indexes hit fresh intraday record highs on the day.

Of the 30 companies on the Dow, card company American Express and retail giant Amazon.com are among the biggest percentage gainers so far this year, up 29 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively.

Chipmaker Intel, which trails other players in the surging market for AI components, is down 37 per cent since the start of year, making it the Dow's worst performer in 2024.

Planemaker Boeing follows Intel with a 30 per cent year-to-date loss after the Jan. 5 mid-air panel blowout on a MAX 9 jet rekindled concerns about safety.

For the Dow, the journey to 40,000 from the 30,000-mark took a little more than three years, a faster climb than the previous 10,000-point clamber, at less than four years.

It took nearly two decades for it to move from the 10,000-mark to 20,000. The index, which dates to 1896, first touched 10,000 in March 1999.