Gold is nearing a 7-year high. But it can’t keep pace with Big Tech

February 19, 2020, 10:20 AM UTC

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Good morning, Bull Sheeters. It’s a risk-on day. Markets are climbing on the news that Beijing will likely do whatever it takes—injecting stimulus where needed—to cushion the coronavirus blow.

So, let’s go right to the question: who’s up, who’s down today?

Markets update

Equities are leading the way, as I type. The Asian and European markets are up across the board, as are the U.S. futures. Elsewhere, crude is up, the dollar is down.

Yesterday, the markets sunk on worrying news out of Apple and HSBC. Today, so far, the company news flow looks fairly tame.

The dominant narrative remains coronavirus. The latest outbreak data suggests the situation could—knock wood—be stabilizing. Yes, the global infection tally has topped 75,000, and the death toll has surpassed 2,000. But the number of infections in the past 24 hours—an important number to watch—was under 2,000.

We’re only one month into this outbreak so expect plenty of twists and turns in the weeks to come.

Gold standard?

One of the big headlines this morning involves gold. It’s trading near a seven-year high, a rally fueled by coronavirus concerns. The shiny metal is up 5.6% so far this year, which is to be expected when you get sky-is-falling market jolt in the form of a contagion that shuts down factories in the world’s second biggest economy and threatens to disrupt the global supply chain.

But you know what’s performing even better than the yellow stuff?

Answer: Tech… as you’ll see in today’s chart.


Yesterday was a fine illustration of the unsinkable nature of tech stocks. The Apple sales-warning late on Monday sent the global markets lower. Nasdaq though didn’t miss a beat, eking out a gain yesterday.

Since the start of 2020, the Nasdaq is up an impressive 7.7%, That’s a run that’s nearly twice as strong as that of the dollar (as measured in Euro-dollar FX trade) and the benchmark of benchmarks, the S&P 500.

Tech stocks are by no means a safe haven, and yet investors keep pouring into these shares when the news turns bad (and more so when it looks good)—and that’s despite abundant warnings that the valuations don’t quite add up. Meanwhile, every daily gain on the Nasdaq represents a new all-time high, drawing the index ever closer to 10,000.

If there’s a theme to draw from the markets so far in 2020 it’s that investors aren’t going to give up easily on growth stocks.

The bulls continue to carry the day, and they’re long tech.

Bernhard Warner

Today's reads

Mixed bag. Walmart, the world’s biggest company by revenue, has invested tens of billions of dollars into e-commerce in the last few years, aiming to protect its market share from AmazonFortune’s Phil Wahba reports. That showed on Tuesday, when the retail giant reported a 22nd straight quarter of U.S. comparable sales growth in a row, helped by e-commerce business rising 30%. Here's the bad news: That strong digital growth is coming at great cost and is not getting a boost from categories where Walmart has made big bets, namely toys and apparel.

Meet your landlord. What do the Cosmopolitan and Bellagio hotels on the Las Vegas Strip have in common with Stuyvesant Town, the largest apartment complex in Manhattan? They’re all owned by investment funds controlled by Blackstone Group, the private equity giant, writes Fortune’s Shawn Tully. Over the past decade, Blackstone has relentlessly expanded in real estate, to the extent that today it ranks, by Fortune’s estimates, as the world’s largest commercial real estate company.

Back to work. Sort of. Chinese policymakers ordered factories back to work on Feb. 10, following the prolonged Lunar New Year shutdown imposed in an attempt to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus. But more than a week later, production lines remain eerily silent as millions of workers remain under restricted movement. Factories—including those owned by giants like Tesla, Airbus, Toyota and General Motors—are starting to reopen but are a long way from returning to full capacity, reports Fortune’s Eamon Barrett.

Market candy

Jobs with benefits. Which workplace perk do you value most? Fortune’s just-published 2020 ranking of the 100 Best Companies to Work For finds that the top-ranked firms offer benefits such as subsidized gyms (78%), subsidized child care (42%), and even fully paid health care (12%). Finance and insurance firms dominate, occupying 21 places, reports Lance Lambert. The chart-topping firms are HiltonUltimate SoftwareWegmans Food MarketsCisco, and Workday.

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