Seemingly on cruise control, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) ended a sixth straight day of gains by closing at all-time highs for a fourth straight day. Today's buying was driven by February unemployment numbers showing that the unemployment rate declined to 7.7%. During this week, where investors bid shares higher on hopes the Fed would continue its stimulus program, the Dow posted 2.2% gains. Blue chips added 67 points, or about 0.5%, to close at 14,397 on Friday.
Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) was today's top blue chip gainer, adding 1.9% today. The gain wasn't magical in the least; in fact, it was quite logical. Wall Street poured into shares after learning that the lovable trio of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia will all be portrayed by the original actors in the next Star Wars installment. Disney, which acquired Lucasfilm for $4 billion in October 2012, is shooting for a 2015 release date for the seventh film in the series.
After two straight days of crushing its blue chip counterparts, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) fizzled to end the week, finishing 1.5% lower, at the bottom of the Dow. Still, with the kind of week B of A put together, as investors cheered the way the bank handled stress tests, shares still ended with 6.4% gains. Today's slip may have been partially caused by investors wanting to lock in gains.
Nine of the 10 major sectors ended Friday with gains, and none made off better than the consumer and cyclical sector, which added nearly 0.6% today. Premium mattress powerhouse Tempur-Pedic (NYSE:TPX) gave the sector a boost, jumping 5.8% today. Investors piled into the shares after learning that the planned acquisition of Sealy was approved by the FTC, a union that will strengthen competitive positioning significantly.
Of course, a rising sector does not a stock make. Phillip Morris (NYSE:PM), despite also being a consumer stock, slipped 0.8%. Less than 30% of all stocks traded today lost value ... so what did it do wrong? Where there's smoke there's fire, right? Usually that's right, but today, there wasn't much pushing it lower. That said, longer-term, the tightening grip of regulation, and the steady uptick of debt on big tobacco's balance sheets remain two major areas of concern for investors in the area.