April 22, 2024

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Are stocks in a new bull market?  It depends.

Are stocks in a new bull market? It depends.

The recent rally in the S&P 500 has led a small group of technology stocks driven by enthusiasm about the profit-generating potential of artificial intelligence, especially for those at the heart of its development and production of the hardware needed to run it. Nvidia, the chip maker, has come to symbolize this newfound enthusiasm for artificial intelligence because semiconductors are used in the technology. The company is up about 170 percent this year — gains that have brought its valuation close to $1 trillion.

Average individual stocks in the S&P 500 are up less than 3 percent this year, market data through closing offers Friday, compared with a gain of more than 11 percent. percent of the index as a whole. About 90 percent of the index’s rise was due to bumper gains for just seven of the biggest companies: Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia, Tesla and Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Apple shares rose 2.2 percent in early Monday afternoon, marking a new high for the company for a short period, before falling 0.8 percent lower, weighing on the index.

The S&P 500 also tracks only the largest companies listed in the United States. Small businesses are generally more vulnerable to fluctuations in the US economy, because larger companies generate a large share of revenue overseas.

The Russell 2000 Index, which tracks smaller public companies, has recently posted more modest gains than its counterpart in large companies. The index fell by more than 30 percent from its peak in November 2021 to its lowest level last June. Since then, the index has risen about 9 percent. On Monday, the index fell 1.3 percent after weaker-than-expected economic data on the services sector.

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In contrast, the Nasdaq Composite Index, which is heavily weighted toward big tech companies, is up more than 26 percent this year alone. However, it is still about 20 percent lower than its previous peak, which was reached in late 2021.

“I think the 20 percent rule was easy for people to follow,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market analyst at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “Unfortunately, some bear market rally triggers that threshold, which we view as a false signal.”