NEW YORK -- The Nasdaq composite, the U.S. market index most closely associated with technology stocks, closed at an all-time high Thursday, surpassing a 2000 record set just before the dot-com crash.
Its record close of 5,056.06 capped a slow, unsteady climb from a 2002 low of 1,114.11 that spanned a recession, the rise of biotech and social media, and the explosive growth of smartphones that has helped make Apple the most valuable company in the United States.
The Nasdaq jumped as high as 5,073.091 on Thursday, led by shares of Apple, which has been among the biggest positive influences on the index in recent years. The index's last record close of 5,048.62 was hit on March 10, 2000.
The S&P 500 set an intraday high but closed shy of a new record.
%VIRTUAL-pullquote-Now that it's making a new high, I don't think it's just going to stop. It has the potential to go up, absent some external event that I can't predict.%Rapid growth in biotechnology companies such as Gilead and social media firms like Facebook, driven by the popularity of mobile computing, also helped lift the Nasdaq to its current levels.
Strategists say there is still room for the Nasdaq to rise.
"Now that it's making a new high, I don't think it's just going to stop. It has the potential to go up, absent some external event that I can't predict. I think the companies look as though they ought to power through this environment," said Walter Price, senior portfolio manager and managing director of the AllianzGI Global Technology fund (RAGTX) in San Francisco.
In 2000, "a lot of the high-growth companies were selling at 200 or 300 times next year's earnings. This is nothing like that. This is a whole different world versus 2000."
On Thursday, shares of Gilead (GILD) were up 1 percent at $105.21, while Facebook (FB), which late Wednesday posted quarterly revenue that missed analysts estimates, was down 2.6 percent at $82.41.
Shares of Apple (AAPL) were up 0.8 percent at $129.67, while Google (GOOGL) was up 1.5 percent at $557.46. They are the two top components by market cap in the Nasdaq. Microsoft (MSFT), which was the top component in March 2000, is now third, followed by Facebook.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 20.42 points, or 0.11 percent, to 18,058.69, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) gained 4.97 points, or 0.24 percent, to 2,112.93 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 20.89 points, or 0.41 percent, to 5,056.06.
The Nasdaq lost 78.4 percent of its value from the 2000 peak to its 2002 low 31 months later. From the March 2009 trough to today's record, the index gained 300 percent.
The End Is Near?
Stephen Massocca, chief investment officer at Wedbush Equity Management in San Francisco, cautioned that social media stocks within the sector will likely tumble eventually. "I don't know when it's going to end but I know how it's going to end badly," Massocca said.
Massocca referred to the dramatic rise of the Global X Social Media index ETF (SOCL), which was down 0.4 percent Thursday but is up about 15 percent for the year so far.
The Nasdaq composite's market capitalization is $8.2 trillion, compared with a $19.5 trillion market cap for the S&P 500, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Though the Nasdaq is heavily associated with technology, the S&P 500 technology sector is actually down about 21 percent since March 10, 2000, according to S&P-Dow Jones Indices analyst Howard Silverblatt.
On Thursday, eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,039 to 956, for a 2.13-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,659 issues rose and 1,061 fell, for a 1.56-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
-With additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal, David Randall, Sinead Carew and Rodrigo Campos.
What to watch Friday:
The Commerce Department releases durable goods for March at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results.
8 Fun, Inexpensive Group Activities for You and Your Friends
Market Wrap: Stocks Advance as Nasdaq Sets Closing Record
Not only is dodgeball a great throwback to your childhood, it's an excellent way to get outdoors and exercise while having a ton of fun.
You can host pickup games of dodgeball at the park or in someone's backyard with as few or as many friends as you like. If you really want to get serious about it, you can form teams with friends, coworkers and other acquaintances and put on an official tournament. (You decide what prize the winning team gets, whether it's trophies or simply bragging rights.)
Ask everyone to bring their favorite movie from their childhood and enjoy a movie marathon down memory lane with classics like "The Goonies," "Clueless "and "Empire Records."
Or declare a theme of movies "so bad they're good." You know the type -- you groan at how awful they are, but you also have a ton of fun making snarky comments to your friends about how awful they are. Some suggestions to start you out: "Sharknado," "The Room" and "Miami Connection."
Stop oohing and aahing over all those awesome crafts on Pinterest and make some yourselves. Find a craft on Pinterest everyone can enjoy, or just buy a whole bunch of random art supplies and see who can make the most Pin-worthy creation from them. Create your own board to display your works of art-the good, the bad and the ugly.
Call up your local theaters and ask if they have any openings for volunteer ushers. This is not only an easy gig, it's also a great way to see a play or musical for free, while supporting the arts community and potentially making new friends.
All you have to do is dress nicely, guide people to their seats before the show, hand out brochures and direct the audience members to the restrooms if they ask you. Then you get to sit back and enjoy the show with everyone else cost-free, whether it's a quirky local play or a Broadway showstopper.
You don't have be particularly talented to participate in a flash mob; your mob could do anything from a choreographed dance routine to freezing in place in a crowded public area.
You can organize your own mob via Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms, or you can join one in the planning stages by Googling "flash mob" and the name of your town. Whether your flash mob winds up a YouTube sensation or an epic fail, you'll be sure to create some great memories you and your friends can talk about for years.
This game goes by many names. The classic comic strip "Calvin & Hobbes" dubbed it "Calvinball." On the hit show "New Girl," it's called "True American." The rules are simple: The only rules are the ones you make up, and the wackier, the better.
You likely played this as a child, coming up with rules on the fly like "the floor is hot lava" or "you can only throw the ball with your left hand, unless you throw it backwards." Now that you're grown up, step things up a notch by throwing in trivia, memory challenges and perhaps an affordable adult beverage or two.
Stop watching HGTV to voyeur into the houses of the rich and opulent. Instead, see these houses in real life!
There's no rule that says you need to be interested in buying a home to hit up its open house. Nobody will prequalify you; in fact, it's common for neighbors to stroll into open houses just to scope out the other homes on their block. Don your best "Real Housewives" outfits and tour the insides of some of those houses you always ogle as you drove past.
One critical rule for this activity: Do not take the real estate agent's time away from actual interested buyers. If the agent asks you any questions, be honest: just tell them you're simply looking and that you're not interested in buying. Don't be disruptive, don't be messy, and don't take up anyone else's time or energy. Otherwise, though, have fun!
Geocaching is a scavenger hunt for the digital age. "Caches," or small waterproof containers, are hidden in various locations throughout the world, and geocachers must track them down using GPS coordinates and sometimes clues. Most caches contain logbooks that let you record you've found them; some have small rewards or gifts you're allowed to take if you leave an item of your own behind.
It can be a fun way to play detective and explore parts of your area you haven't been to before. Check out Geocaching.com or Google "geocaching" plus your town's name to find caches near you.