Photograph by Andrew Kelly — Reuters
By Tom Huddleston Jr.
February 25, 2015

It took a years-long tech boom to bring the Nasdaq composite within striking distance of the all-time high it reached 15 years ago.

Now, riding a 10-day winning streak — the tech-heavy index’s longest since July 2009 — the Nasdaq is within about 80 points of its all-time record close of 5,048. The index posted that mark in March 2000, just before the dot-com bubble burst.

The Nasdaq added only about 7 points, or 0.1%, to finish Tuesday at 4,968, but that was enough to extend its streak of gains. The Nasdaq has gained more than 240 points over the past 10 days of trading, putting it within striking distance of the 5,000-point mark for the first time since the era.

Tuesday’s modest gains came after U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen offered a subtle change to the central bank’s stance on an inevitable interest rate hike. Yellen said Tuesday that the Fed will consider the rate hike — which is expected at some point later this year — “on a meeting-by-meeting basis” after previously promising a “patient” approach. Yellen’s statements left some wiggle room for interpretation, resulting in a cautious approach to the market by investors.

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the benchmark S&P 500 also rose Tuesday — 0.5% and 0.3%, respectively — as both indices once again improved on their own record closes. The Dow, which reached its first record close of 2015 on Friday, finished today at another all-time closing high of 18,209. The S&P finished at 2,115, which was good for the index’s fourth record close of the month.

While the Nasdaq has yet to match the other major indices this year when it comes to record-setting finishes, the index is easily outpacing them in terms of percentage gains. The Nasdaq is up 4.9% on the year, which beats the S&P 500’s 2.8% gain and more than doubles the Dow’s performance.

Of course, Nasdaq’s climb back to its dot-com boom glory days has also brought out doomsayers who worry that another bubble could be on the horizon. Those who worry about another tech stock crash point to massive, multi-billion dollar valuations for startups such as Uber and the ephemeral messaging app Snapchat.

However, this time around, strong performances from tech giants such as Apple and Amazon are driving the Nasdaq’s impressive gains. That includes Apple (AAPL), which is up nearly 20% on the year and recently became the first U.S. company with a market value north of $700 billion. Amazon’s (AMZN) shares are also up more than 20% this year while impressive gains from biotech outfits Biogen Idec (BIIB) and Gilead Sciences (GILD) have also contributed to the Nasdaq’s strong performance.

— Reuters contributed to this report.


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