But it's business as usual in America historic passes

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The Independent Online
AS NATO'S assault in the Balkans intensified yesterday, in New York history of a much happier kind was made. For the first time, the Dow Jones industrial average closed above the mythical 10,000 mark after soaring nearly 2 per cent.

It was a moment that was meaningless and momentous. One thing it did suggest: so enamoured are investors with the euphoric state of the US economy that nothing can spoil their mood - not even war.

The market closed last night showing the Dow Jones, an index of 30 of America's most blue-chip stocks, registering 10,006. The city's Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, was on hand as the bell rang to toss Dow 10,000 baseball caps to exultant traders on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Dow Jones first punctured the 10,000 mark two weeks ago. Until yesterday it had failed to remain above that mark until the market's close. The hesitation was attributed in part to concerns about the gathering war in the Balkans.

But yesterday the market was deaf to the Pentagon briefings and blind to CNN. What mattered was the hard news on the business wire.

Investors were also betting that there would be no change in US interest rates today. The reasons are manifest: the US economy still seems locked into its so-called Goldilocks scenario of good corporate profits, negligible inflation and, most importantly, sky-high consumer confidence.

Whatever the war, however big the conflict, the business of America is still business.

The Kosovo effect,

Business, page 13