Summary

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 23,000 for the first time on Wednesday, driven by a rise in IBM after it hinted at a return to revenue growth. The Dow hit 22,000 on August 2, only 54 trading days earlier and roughly half the time it took the index to move from 21,000 to 22,000.

This marks the fourth time this year the Dow has reached a 1,000-point milestone.

The index is up 3.4 percent so far in October and is on track for a seventh consecutive month of gains. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also hit record closing highs.

Investors globally pulled $33.7 billion from domestic equity funds during the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters’ Lipper research unit. The funds are on course to post net outflows for the full year.

Shares of IBM, which beat expectations on revenue, rose 8.9 percent and accounted for about 90 points of the day’s 160 point-gain in the blue-chip index.

The Dow had briefly surpassed the all-time peak on Tuesday but closed just shy of it.

The financial index rose 0.6 percent, led by bank stocks recovering from recent post-earnings losses. Bullish calls by brokerages helped to support the bank shares.

Investors await news on Trump’s decision on the Federal Reserve chair position. The White House said Wednesday Trump will announce his decision in the “coming days.”

Abbott rose 1.3 percent after the company’s profit beat estimates on strong sales in its medical devices business.

After the bell, shares of eBay (EBAY.O) fell 4 percent following its results.

Approximately 5.6 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, a number that was below the 5.9 billion share daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Housing Starts Fall

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday morning that housing starts fell to a one-year low in September, decreasing 4.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.127 million units as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma disrupted the construction of single-family homes in the South. It was the lowest level for that statistic since September 2016 and marked the third monthly decline in starts.

Groundbreaking fell 9.3 percent in the South to its lowest point since October 2015, with single-family homebuilding in the region falling 15.3 percent to more than a one-year low. The South accounts for almost half of the nation’s homebuilding.

Building permits fell 4.5 percent to a rate of 1.215 million units in September. Permits in the South dropped 5.6 percent.

It was not clear what the impact of Harvey and Irma was on the September housing starts and permits data. The Commerce Department said the Texas and Florida areas impacted by the storms accounted for about 13 percent of U.S. building permits in 2016.

Even before the storms struck, residential construction had almost stagnated this year amid shortages of land and skilled labor as well as rising costs of building materials.

Investment in homebuilding contracted at a 7.3 percent annualized rate in the second quarter, the steepest drop in nearly seven years. As a result, housing subtracted three-tenths of a percentage point from gross domestic product in the April-June quarter.

Although it is expected that housing starts will rebound in the fourth quarter, rebuilding in the areas devastated by the hurricanes could reallocate an already tight labor pool away from other parts of the country and limit gains. The reconstruction effort is also pushing up prices of building materials.

A survey on Tuesday indicated confidence among homebuilders rising to a five-month high in October, though concerns about labor and land shortages lingered.

Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, fell 4.6 percent to a rate of 829,000 units in September. That was the lowest level since May.

Groundbreaking on single-family housing projects has slowed since vaulting to near a 9-1/2-year high in February. Single-family starts rose in the Northeast and Midwest last month and hit more than a 10-year high in the West.

Last month, starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment fell 5.1 percent to a rate of 298,000 units.

Though the housing market appears to be stalling, the fundamentals remain solid. Unemployment is at a 16 ½ year low of 4.2 percent, wages are rising steadily and mortgage rates remain close to historic lows.

In September, single-family home permits rose 2.4 percent. Permits, however, continued to lag starts, suggesting single-family homebuilding will probably not rebound strongly.

Permits for the construction of multi-family homes fell 16.1 percent. Despite the decline, permits continued to outpace starts, a positive sign for future multi-family construction.