Nasdaq soars to a record high and is on track for its biggest annual gain since 2009

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS



The Nasdaq 100 Index hit a new all-time high Friday as big tech stocks rally after the Federal Reserve signaled that its aggressive rate-hikes to contain inflation are over and cuts are on the table for 2024.

The 100-member index rose 0.5% to 16,623.45, surpassing its November 2021 peak of 16,573.34. The move builds on the risk-on momentum that’s been in place since January and pushed the index on track for its best year since 2009. 

An almost non-stop run in the tech-heavy index since January has challenged defensive positioning in the group following a dismal 2022, forcing investors to play catch-up. The momentum behind the gauge’s best opening six months to a year ever sparked anew in November — and accelerated further this week, when policymakers said the rate-hiking cycle is essentially over. 

“The falling interest-rate environment has provided a huge support for the long-duration Nasdaq 100 Index,” said Gary Bradshaw, a portfolio manager at Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, Texas. “If you look at the fundamentals of the group, they’re strong for the big-tech names and other firms in the index, which should support a further advance.”

The Nasdaq 100 last hit a record shortly after Fed Chair Jerome Powell retired the word ‘transitory’ when describing inflation. Policymakers’ whatever-it-takes approach to reign in price pressures whipsawed stocks across the board the following year, but it hit the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index — which lost a third of its value — particularly hard. 

This year’s revival has come on the heels of optimism over artificial intelligence that’s fueled a triple-digit rally in the Magnificent Seven gauge of tech titans. Optimism that the Fed’s “dot plot” now indicates a sharper pace of rate cuts in 2024 compared to September only added fuel to the momentum. 

“Technology is still the leader for US equities,” said Mary Ann Bartels, chief investment strategist at Sanctuary Wealth. “AI is going to be transformative in terms of productivity growth. Earnings are just broadly starting to turn mildly higher even though technology companies have held up well, so as long as we remain in a scarce earnings environment, growth will likely continue to outperform value next year.”

The Nasdaq 100 is no stranger to long stretches with no records — it went without one for more than 15 years following the dot-com bust. Before its record close on Friday, the gauge posted an 11% gain in November, its best month since July 2022.

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