The Nasdaq Composite topped the 6,000 mark in Tuesday morning trading, setting a new record, amid strong earnings reports and relief on Wall Street that France seems likely to elect a moderate president.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq ended Tuesday with a 0.7 percent rise, up 42 points as part of a broad market rally that has pushed up stocks for the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s index as well. Fueling the Nasdaq’s rise were moves by tech giant Apple (APPL), which advanced 0.6 percent, and biotech company Biogen (BIIB), up 3.6 percent. Biogen reported solid earnings for 2017’s first quarter, with the help of a new drug that combats a rare infant disease.
On a tear, the Nasdaq is up nearly 12 percent this year and nearly 23 percent over the past 12 months.That beats the Dow (6.3 percent in 2017 and 16.6 percent over 12 months) and the S&P 500 (6.7 percent and 4.2 percent).
The Nasdaq’s surge is reminiscent of its last one, in the late 1990s. That bubble, fueled by the dot-com boom, burst spectacularly in early 2000 as many of its profitless but buzzed-about startups reversed their trajectories and crashed to earth. Back then, the index expanded rapidly to peak at 5,049 in March 2000. It fell precipitously after that and took until 2015 to crawl back to its 2000 level.
The difference this time is that the tech world is much more mature, and for the most part, in the black. Plus, Nasdaq now has seemingly impregnable giants like Apple, the world’s most valuable company by market capitalization, as its main engines.
The first quarter this year has featured good earnings news. And markets were relieved that the centrist presidential candidate in France, Emmanuel Macron, appeared the favorite over rightwing firebrand Marine Le Pen for that nation’s May 7 presidential election runoff. Investors were worried that Le Pen would pull France out of the European Union, but Macron won the most votes in Sunday’s first election.
Also helping the Nasdaq and stocks in general have been expectations in the U.S. of big tax cuts under President Donald Trump, as well as glee over his business-friendly administration.
Even though Trump-related market euphoria has cooled a bit over the past month owing to his political setbacks, the Nasdaq has shown the steadiest performance compared with the other indexes.