Bank brokerage chiefs said they understand the giddiness that accompanied the Dow Jones industrial average's rise into record territory.

However, they said they would counsel investors to keep their eye on the overall economy and their portfolios.

"It's clearly another milestone, but in the overall picture, what's important is what stage of your life you're in and how you've got your assets allocated," said Carin J. Offerman, president of Offerman & Co., the brokerage subsidiary of Marquette Bank NA in Minneapolis.

Though the bank's clients are aware of the market indicator's rise, "what's important to them is not what's going on in the market but what's going on in their portfolio," she said.

Richard V. Downen, the president of NationsBanc Investments Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., said the Dow's record could make investors cautious.

"As it gets higher, people get more nervous about the possibility we'll have a retrenchment," he said.

But it's a mistake to measure the economy by the Dow, which tracks just 30 companies and is weighted toward industrial companies rather than technology and service companies, Mr. Downen said.

Still, both brokerage chiefs say they make a daily mental note of where the Dow closes - if only because people expect them to know.

"It's embarrassing when you go to a cocktail party and don't have a clue what it was," Mr. Downen said.

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