Dow’s day

The Dow Jones industrial average rose again Wednesday, closing above 15,000 for a second day after breaching the landmark level for the first time Tuesday.

It was a day without any major economic releases, so investors focused on earnings as reporting for the first quarter draws to a close. Profits are at record levels and projected to rise throughout 2013, though growth has slowed.

Internet company AOL plunged as its subscription revenue fell, and burger chain Wendy’s slumped after it reported revenue that fell short of expectations. On the positive side, grocer Whole Foods and video game publisher Electronic Arts rose sharply after predicting full-year profits that were higher than expected.

The Dow closed up 48.92 at 15,105.12. The S&P 500 index was 6.73 higher at 1,632.69. The Nasdaq composite gained 16.64 to 3,413.27. The Russell 2000, an index of smaller stocks, rose 2.59 points to 970.41.

Associated Press

NEW YORK — The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 15,000 for the first time Tuesday.

An improving outlook for the economy and record corporate earnings are persuading investors to buy stocks. Federal Reserve stimulus also is helping.

The Dow has gained 15 percent this year, and it has more than doubled since hitting bottom at 6,547 on March 9, 2009, during the Great Recession.

Now that stocks have scaled these heights, what’s next? Market experts give their views.

The Bull

James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management.

Paulsen thinks stocks can go a lot higher. He said investors are shedding their fear following the stock market slump that accompanied the Great Recession. He keeps a close watch on a key figure called the price-earnings ratio, a measure of how much investors are paying for stocks relative to a company’s earnings per share.

Investors paid an average of 15.7 times earnings over the past 12 months. Paulsen said that ratio could climb as high as 20 times, as long as the economy doesn’t fall into recession.

“We don’t need rapid earnings growth, we just need more confidence,” said Paulsen.

The Skeptic

Michael Lewitt, chief investment officer of Credit Strategy Advisory Group, a money manager in Boca Raton, Fla

Lewitt is optimistic in the short run but bearish over a longer period. He worries that investors are buying stocks because they expect the Fed to keep stimulating the economy and that they don’t have as much fear as they should.

One sign: They are borrowing 28 percent more than they did a year ago to finance their stock trades, and now have a near-record amount of debt, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch figures.

The Bear

Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners, a New York-based investment company.

Stocks are poised for a decline, having risen too far, too fast, said Landesman. Investors, encouraged by the ongoing stimulus efforts of the central bank, led by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, are starting to think that stocks are a one-way bet.

Landesman thinks investor confidence is more fragile than it appears. The catalysts for a sell-off, he said, could be anything from disappointing earnings news to weak economic data, either from the U.S. or overseas.

“You’re getting to a point where there is too much bullishness,” said Landesman.