All of the important Dow milestones in one chart

As the Dow closed above 24,000 for the first time, take a look back with this visual history of the index.

  • By Jessica Marmor Shaw,
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Over 5,000 points in a single year.

Just 30 sessions after hitting 23,000, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) made history again on Thursday (for what feels like the umpteenth time this year) and closed above the 24,000 level.

And here we thought it might take until New Year's to get there.

The 30-session surge to 24,000 is the third-fastest 1,000-point advance in the index's history. It's the fifth time the Dow has hit one of these psychologically important 1,000-point milestones this year — which represents the largest number of such milestones within a calendar year in the benchmark's 120-plus-year history, according to the WSJ Market Data Group.

Yes, milestones are just numbers, but they provide an opportunity to reflect, take stock and consider history. To that end, below is a visual history of the Dow and its important milestones, in one chart.

The rise to 24,000 had been in the works for weeks, as a healthy crop of earnings continued to roll in and the House and Senate took some key steps on a tax overhaul.

The S&P 500 made history (.SPX) as well, closing out a 13-month streak of monthly advances on a total-return basis.

The rally from 20,000 to 21,000 earlier this year happened over 24 trading sessions, matching the fastest-ever 1,000-point advance to a milestone level in the index's history, when it rallied from 10,000 to 11,000 in early 1999. And the rally from 19,000 to 20,000 was the Dow's second-fastest such advance, since the 59-session span between 13,000 and 14,000 from late March to early July 2007.

In the past, the index has struggled with major milestones for years. It first touched 1,000 in 1966 but didn't close above that mark until November 1972. And the Dow first crossed 10,000 in 1999, but only really took up residence above that milestone in 2010.

The Dow has seen no such struggles in 2017.

Of course, there are warnings and red flags for those investors looking to curb their own enthusiasm. After an "absurdly good" 2017, analysts aren't too excited about 2018. Goldman Sachs is warning that after years of stretched valuations, a day of reckoning is near — the only question is whether the pain will come on fast or slow. Société Générale, meanwhile, is worried that investors won't notice lurking market risks until it's too late, "reliving the parable of the boiling frog."

Plenty of market watchers and high-profile investors have been sounding the bubble warning all year, to the point where it's now being called the Everything Bubble (though Warren Buffett isn't one of the naysayers). Then, there is the Federal Reserve and other central banks beginning to reverse easy-money policies (which Jamie Dimon has said investors aren't ready for), and North Korea's advancing nuclear capabilities (the biggest gray swan of all?).

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