Monday 21 January 2019

Nasdaq hits fresh high as February losses regained

Bitcoin slumped amid regulatory scrutiny (stock image)
Bitcoin slumped amid regulatory scrutiny (stock image)

Sarah McDonald and Sarah Ponczek

The Nasdaq Composite Index rallied to a fresh record on Friday, capping an 11pc gain since its February 8 low as investors poured back into the nine-year-old bull market's biggest winners.

Indexes for every other corner of the market, from mega-caps to small-caps to the S&P 500, have yet to reclaim the same milestone.

It's a return to form for the tech titans - from Apple to Amazon - that briefly lost their lustre as the market convulsed in February.

Investors poured almost $616m (€500m) into the biggest exchange-traded fund tracking the industry on Thursday, the most since December 2011. The Nasdaq sank 5.1pc in the week ended February 9, the most since early 2016.

"In an environment where the market seems to be favouring growth, that's where investors can go to get growth," said Gary Bradshaw, a portfolio manager at Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, Texas.

"In an economy that's strong, it seems like tech stocks are growing even faster than the economy. It was a great place to be last year and so far early this year it's still a good place to be."

Tech earnings are forecast to rise 31pc in 2018, the second-most among 11 S&P 500 industries after energy. The shares underpinned one of Wall Street's most successful strategies in 2017 - simply sticking with winners - as momentum outpaced just about everything else.

The S&P 500 remains 3.2pc below its all-time high, while the Dow average sits 5pc off its record.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin slumped last week amid increased regulatory scrutiny in the US and Japan, an attempted theft at one of the biggest trading venues, and news that the bankruptcy trustee for Mt Gox has started selling the now-defunct exchange's holdings to repay creditors.

Last Thursday, Japan's Financial Services Agency ordered two exchanges to halt operations for a month and penalised four others.

That announcement came just hours after a warning from the US Securities and Exchange Commission that many online trading platforms should register with the agency.


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