Nasdaq-100 ETF tops $100B in value
Thirty million job losses, shrinking consumer spending and a projected 16% unemployment rate. Tech stocks turn higher for the year and an ETF that tracks the biggest among them has swelled to a $100 billion market value.
None of the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus has deterred investors from piling into the companies that stand out for their strong balance sheets and ability to churn out profits in the stay-at-home world. Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are each worth more than $1 trillion.
“It’s a sector now that’s just resilient,” said Shawn Cruz, senior manager of trader strategy at TD Ameritrade. “The conditions we’re in right now, companies need to keep operating — they just need to do it remotely. And that benefits a lot of these tech companies.”
The group’s latest superlatives came Thursday, the day before a jobs report expected to be among the worst on record and as the bond market signals trouble head with two-year yields sinking to a record.
In tech stocks, the Invesco QQQ Trust Series 1, which tracks the Nasdaq-100 Index, closed with a market value of more than $100 billion for the first time since it began trading in 1999. The Nasdaq Composite turned positive for the year, whereas the S&P 500 and the Dow were still down.
QQQ TOPS $100B
Investors are picking technology as a safe corner at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is causing so many uncertainties for global markets. Tech behemoths, known for their strong balance sheets and high growth, have counterbalanced the gloom and doom affecting many other industries. With millions of people around the world stuck in their home offices to help contain the outbreak, companies that specialize in remote-working products are becoming a hot spot.
That preference for tech is visible in the ETF world. After posting its best month of inflows since 2001 in March, QQQ added another $3.2 billion in April and $367 million so far in May.
“Investors may recognize that the constituents of QQQ’s benchmark, the Nasdaq 100, are well positioned to capitalize on the current shift to digital working and learning, potential advancements in biotech and healthcare along with a number of transformative, long-term themes in the marketplace,” said Ryan McCormack, Invesco QQQ strategist.
Only four other ETFs are currently above $100 billion — SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY); iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV); Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI); and Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO).
Despite QQQ’s rally, traders are increasingly looking to bet against the fund. Short interest as a percentage of shares outstanding on QQQ — a rough indicator of bearish bets on the fund — climbed to 5.1% on Wednesday, according to data from IHS Markit. That’s up from about 2.7% on March 23.
“The thing we haven’t seen yet with tech names is how badly advertising is going to be hit,” said Marc Odo, client portfolio manager at Swan Global Investments. “Those companies are going to have to plug the gaps or their earnings are going to take a hit.”
Still, solid first-quarter earnings from Google parent Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft and Tesla have contributed to momentum — at least for now. — Additional reporting by Rachel Evans, Vildana Hajric and Sarah Ponczek