The S&P 500 Index (SPX) closed today at $2397, down $2 for the day. The Russell 2000 Index (RUT) closed at $1392, essentially unchanged (up twenty two cents). But the NASDAQ Composite Index closed up $18 for a new all-time high of $6121. Normally, we see these three major market indices to be somewhat in sync. Most commonly, we draw conclusions for the divergence of the large blue chips represented in the S&P 500 from the small to mid-cap stocks of the Russell 2000.
SPX is bouncing off resistance at the upper edge of a trading channel that dates back to March 1st. RUT has been even more neutral, currently in the middle of a trading channel that dates back to the first week of December. However, the NASDAQ is a different story. That price chart has been steadily climbing higher since the election and today was no exception. NASDAQ is being driven by the high technology stocks that are on fire. Stocks like AAPL, AMZN, FB, ISRG, PCLN, GOOGL and many others are driving the NASDAQ Composite. It wasn't long ago that Google was approaching $500, and I thought that to be rarified air, but no more. Many NASDAQ stocks are approaching $1,000 per share. PCLN closed at $1911 today. We are in the midst of a high tech boom in the stock market. Most smaller companies and the large traditional blue chips were not invited to the party.
I find it interesting that the very success of these NASDAQ stocks is scaring many analysts. Predictions of a correction or worse are common. Price measures, such as P/E ratios and dividend yields do indeed suggest an overbought market, but far from historical extremes. Recent earnings announcements have been very positive with large numbers of companies beating analyst estimates and the outlooks for next quarter have been generally positive. Anyone who has much market experience will be quick to tell you that corrections are exceedingly hard to predict. Bull markets will ignore a lot of negative news and then one day... they won't.
What is a trader to do? I have been buying diagonal call spreads on some of these hot NASDAQ stocks. I am hedging my bets a bit by selling the front dated call slightly in the money. That gives me a lower break-even price, allowing the trade to tolerate some minor pull-backs. But don't take a long nap. This market requires close monitoring.