Photographer: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP via Getty Images

It’s Dow Vs. Nikkei for Bragging Rights With 20,000 Within Grasp

Both the Dow Jones Industrial and Nikkei 225 stock averages are racing toward 20,000. For one it’s uncharted territory -- for the other, one more step on the road to past glory.

The U.S. gauge is less than 100 points from the milestone, while the Japanese measure is about 600 points away. Both have been rallying since Donald Trump’s November election victory, with the Nikkei powering back into a bull market and the Dow hitting a string of all-time highs.

The Nikkei has been there many times before, most recently last December. It first pierced the 20,000 barrier on Jan. 30, 1987. Back then, when Americans were flocking to theaters to see "Platoon" and bobbing their heads to Bon Jovi’s "Livin’ on a Prayer," the Dow was also trading near a record high -- but at the much lower level of 2,158. And being 1987, the U.S. market was heading for the Black Monday crash nine months later.

While the Nikkei surged to 38,915.87 before the turn of that decade, the Dow took 12 more years just to reach 10,000. Still, that steadiness has been a virtue. Even if the Nikkei gets to 20,000 first, and even though it more than doubled under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the measure will still be down about 49 percent from that bubble-era high in December 1989.

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