Dow cracks 34,000 for first time

The Dow closed above 34,000 for the first time ever on THURSDAY and the S&P 500 closed at a record as well as investors cheered blockbuster retail sales data.

Sales surged nearly 10 percent in March, in a huge rebound from the prior month's drop. Cash registers were ringing thanks to government stimulus checks, warmer weather, and as the vaccine rollout encourages more activity out of the house.

That fueled hopes this economic recovery is well on its way and will fuel further market gains.

The Dow rallied 305 points. The S&P 500 gained 45. The Nasdaq jumped 180.

But stocks are looking pricey at current levels, says Thomson Reuters Stocks Buzz Analyst Terence Gabriel.

"We're reaching that kind of same level of disparity that we have seen declines begin from in the past, so the ability for these indices to sort of continue to move higher and pull away from these long term averages may be off a bit of a stretch here, given how far we are above them already."

March's blowout retail sales report wasn't the only good news. New unemployment claims plunged to a fresh health-crisis low of 576,000. But unemployment is still a problem. Nearly 17 million Americans received some sort of government jobless assistance through the end of March.

Powerful earnings continued to rollout from the banking sector. Quarterly profits more than doubled at Bank of America. Investors, however, were looking for even better results and drove the stock lower.

Citigroup smashed earnings expectations with profits that tripled from a year ago. Shares of Citigroup ended slightly lower for the day but are up about 70 percent over the past year.

Looking outside of banking: Delta was the first of the major airlines to report quarterly results. It posted a bigger-than-expected loss as it got squeezed from a slump in demand, lower fares and higher jet fuel costs. Delta shed nearly 3 percent.