April 19, 2024

The market saw a quiet end on Thursday to very not quiet first quarter of 2024, with all three major stock indexes either up or down slightly on the day. Markets are closed on Friday for the Good Friday holiday.

But the muted finish obscured a quarter of growth.

Here’s a first-quarter stock market recap.

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all touched record highs

The first quarter of 2024 was fruitful for investors, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq all reached new peaks on the same day, March 20. The Dow almost crossed the 40,000 mark for the first time.

The Dow is up 5.5% so far in 2024, while the S&P 500 has gained 10.8% and the Nasdaq 10.9%.

AI boosting the market

Developments in generative artificial intelligence continued to boost AI and adjacent stocks. AI chipmaker Nvidia was a particular standout, gaining almost 88% in a single quarter.

Nvidia unveiled its new AI chip, Blackwell, during its closely watched GPU Technology Conference earlier this month. The Blackwell computing platform includes the new B200 chip, made up of 208 billion transistors. It will be faster and more powerful than its predecessor, the hugely in-demand, $40,000 H100 chip, which is behind some of the world’s most powerful AI models.

And it wasn’t just Nvidia. Super Micro Computer stock ended the quarter up a whopping 253.8%

The Big Tech companies increasingly got in on the AI craze to start 2024, including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google parent Alphabet. While Apple eyed a plan for AI devices in China, Amazon added $2.75 billion to its investment in Anthropic, a startup at the forefront of generative artificial intelligence.

The Fed gives hope even as inflation stays stubborn

There was optimism at the beginning of the quarter that inflation would continue its steady decline from 2022’s peak, giving the Federal Reserve room to start cutting interest rates.

That hasn’t happened yet, with the consumer price index, a broad measure of goods and services costs, actually ticking back up slightly near the end of the quarter.

But the Fed still gave inventors hope that interest rates might be cut in the coming months — powering stocks to record highs.

Reddit and Trump lead another social media stock boom

Reddit stock soared by as much as 70% as the company kicked off its highly anticipated IPO in late March, before closing up about 48% on its first day of trading. Reddit was the first major social media company to go public since Pinterest in 2019. It started to fall back to Earth in the final days of the quarter as short-sellers began to bet against the shares.

And shares of former President Donald Trump’s newly merged and publicly traded social media company, Trump Media, jumped as much as 50% on their first day of trading. 

The Bitcoin bull is back

After suffering through a long crypto winter, Bitcoin returned to action in the first quarter of 2024. In January, the SEC approved dozens of spot Bitcoin ETFs, giving the crypto industry a much-needed boost. Following that, the U.K. greenlit its own to bitcoin-linked securities.

The spot Bitcoin ETF market saw a record inflow in March, leading to Bitcoin reaching its peak and boosting the whole crypto market.

Boeing crashes

Aerospace and airline stocks were a different story, as scandals and headlines about safety incidents piled up fast.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun stepped down to cap a brutal start to 2024 for the plane maker, which remains mired in a crisis over its 737 Max jets. And United Airlines suffered repeated safety incidents, ending the quarter facing more stringent federal oversight.

Boeing stock dropped 23.3% to start the year, at one point making it the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500.

United Airlines stock manage liftoff despite the problems, rising 17.6%

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