If there is dissent over what Dow 14,000 signifies, what's undeniable is that it's a rarefied event. Before Friday, the Dow had closed above 14,000 just nine times in its history. The first time was in July 2007; the rest were in October of that year.
The last time the Dow closed that mark was Oct. 12, 2007, when it settled at 14,093.08. It had reached its all-time record, 14,164.53, three days before that.
For the average investor, that was all back when the stock market still seemed like a party. Housing prices were starting to ebb but hadn't cratered. Jobs were abundant, with unemployment at 4.7 percent -- compared to 7.9 percent now. Lehman Brothers still existed. So did Bear Stearns, Wachovia and Washington Mutual.
The Dow ended Friday 149.21 points higher to 14,009.79. The other indexes were also up. The S&P 500 rose 15.06 to 1,513.17. The Nasdaq composite index was up 36.97 to 3,179.10.
Auto sales helped. Toyota, Ford, GM and Chrysler all reported double-digit gains for January.
The government jobs report that pushed stocks forward was mixed, but traders chose to focus on the positive. The U.S. said it added 157,000 jobs in January, which was in line with expectations. Unemployment inched up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in December. Many economists, though, were encouraged because the government now says that hiring over the past year was higher than originally thought.
The jobs number is based on a survey of employers. The unemployment rate is based on a separate survey of households, which is why they can diverge.
Among stocks making big moves:
--Drugmaker Merck fell more than 3 percent, down $1.42 to $41.83. Its fourth-quarter profit suffered because of competition from generic medicines against its blockbuster allergy drug Singulair.
-- Insurance company MetLife rose more than 2 percent, up 86 cents to $38.20, after saying it plans to buy the largest private pension fund administrator in Chile.
-- Zoetis, an animal health business that Pfizer just spun off, made its debut on the stock market. It shot up 19 percent, rising $5.01 to $31.01.