Wednesday was a great day on Wall Street. Major market benchmarks like the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -1.04%), S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.81%), and Nasdaq Composite were all significantly higher, sharing in the good news that helped propel the entire market upward. In the end, the S&P 500 fell just short of hitting a record high, but the gains were nevertheless noteworthy.

Today's stock market


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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Investors saw something on Wednesday that they haven't seen from the stock market in a long time. Rather than pointing to a single narrow segment of the market as responsible for gains, market participants noticed a broad-based advance across nearly the entire economy. That bodes well for the sustainability of a bull market move that's already largely produced the V-shaped bounce that optimists had hoped for back in February and March.

A balanced attack

Bulls could see gains in many different industries. Seven different sectors of the market were up 1% or more, but none rose more than 2.25%. Of the remaining sectors, only one -- financials -- lost ground on the day.

It's true that technology stocks dominated the headlines and led the market higher. The Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK -1.62%) was the 2.25% gainer, led by the cream of the technology crop. Yet even there, most of the big players in tech saw similar-sized gains, with only a few big gainers standing out.

Plenty of the other strong performers, though, were in very different businesses:

  • Healthcare stocks managed to rise nearly 2%, with particular attention to some coronavirus-sensitive areas of the industry.
  • Utility stocks climbed 1.75%. Despite an upward move in interest rates that would ordinarily hurt the rate-sensitive sector, investors liked the idea that a more vibrant economy could restore utility use to pre-crisis levels.
  • Consumer staples and consumer discretionary stocks both picked up around 1.5%. Even with the market surging, some investors like the reliability of defensively positioned companies. Others see an improving economy lifting discretionary purchase activity.
  • Real estate and communication services also managed to climb more than 1%.
Several people in front of a sea of computer screens with stock quotes on them.

Image source: Getty Images.

What a bull market needs

At first glance, these balanced gains might not seem all that important. Yet bull markets thrive on positive sentiment, not just within a few key industries but across the entire stock universe. When different industries do well, they feed on each other's success. That can create more dramatic moves higher.

A single day isn't evidence that stocks have turned a corner and entered a new phase of a bull market. However, it does suggest that investors are looking beyond just a few favorite stocks to find great investments wherever they can find them. Given how worried many market participants have been that the recovery from March's lows was based on just a few hot companies, that's welcome news. If the positive trends continue, then it could bring a lot more good news for long-term investors, no matter what their particular specialty happens to be.