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This week had one of the incredible vaults in the history of equity markets

February 24, 2022, 10:26 PM UTC

Thursday February 24th, 2022, the day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the NASDAQ notched the biggest one day point gain, measured from the open to the close, since the comprehensive data sets started in 1971. The Gen-Xers and Gen-Z’ers who’ve embraced the stock market game as never before, and relish trading their picks and pans on social media, are far too young to have ever witnessed such a spectacle, and that goes for most millennials as well. This old judge has lived through some bigger percentage jumps, but nothing that remotely matches the sheer wonder of this one, given the tragic news and the market’s terrified opening reaction.

The NASDAQ vaults an incredible 886 points

The jolt of Russia’s onslaught sent NASDAQ stocks reeling before the open. When the bell rang at 9:30 AM, the index started trading at 12,588, a drop of 3.4% from the previous close on Wednesday. By 11 AM, the NASDAQ had reclaimed all of that territory, and remained more or less even for the day until 1:30 PM. It then hit an accelerating trajectory to finish at 13,474. That moonshot of 886 points from open to close was the biggest one-day point move, measured by increase or decrease, going back a half century. And it now holds that record by a huge margin. The second highest jump was 362 points on January 3, 2001, as the index started recovering from the Dot Com bubble. The sharpest fall? That was 488 points on March 16, 2020 at the start of the COVID crisis.

To be sure, today’s swing isn’t the largest in percentage terms. But it’s up there, way up there. The index gained 7.0% in the six-and-a-half hours from the open to close of trading. That ranks 7th among all intra-day leaps. The only one in double-digits is the 16% rise posted during a gigantic comeback day in March of 2020. Five declines were larger in percentage terms, but four of them ranged from 7.1% to 7.7%. The steepest was a 9% during a bear run in the summer of 1998.

Chart shows the Nasdaq index intraday

Beaten-down tech stocks showed an astounding rebound

A number of big tech names that have suffered substantial drops of late far outpaced the NASDAQ’s overall rise. After opening down 9% from the Wednesday close at $700, Tesla finished the day at $800. From opening to closing bell it added 14% and $100 billion in market cap. Robinhood waxed 11.5% intraday, Block swelled 14.4%, and Roblox rose 16.3%. All four are staples in Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation ETF, and she’s been heavily doubling up on them in February. Until February 23, they’d all been falling fast. But in the mega-rally, Wood recouped a good share of her losses. All five names rose between 5% and 10% from their closing prices on Wednesday.

We’ll hear lots of rationales for this astounding reversal in the days ahead. Wall Street’s market strategists are bound to praise investors pouncing on a major buying opportunity to purchase great innovators at steep discounts. Maybe they’re right. Maybe the market changed its mind on the conviction that the crisis will stop the Fed’s plan to sharply raise interest rates. All we really know is that the numbers were wondrous stats meant for the ages. Unfortunately, NASDAQ valuations, and what the Teslas and other high-flyers must earn to justify them, remain breathtaking as well.

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