(NBC News) - The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through 18,000 for the first time Tuesday, propelled higher by a better-than-expected report on the economy in the third quarter. If the Dow closes above 18,000, it will have taken the index only six months to reach these heights, versus only seven months to get from 16,000 to 17,000.
The wind in the stock market's sails has been the pledge by the Federal Reserve last week to be cautious about raising borrowing costs amid signs that the economy is picking up steam. Investors got another signal of the economy's emerging strength on Tuesday when the government revised upward its final estimate of third quarter economic growth to the fastest pace in 11 years -- 5.0 percent from 3.9 percent reported last month.
"That is a huge plus, a five handle on GDP is astounding to me, but I'm not going to turn it away - Merry Christmas," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.
The stock market came in Tuesday with a four-session rally under its belt. The Dow and the broader S&P 500 both set record highs Monday. But trading has been thin ahead of the holiday weekend. The markets will have a shortened session on Wednesday, Christmas Eve, and will be closed Thursday, Christmas Day.