Did You See That??!! (Yawn)
SAN FRANCISCO --The
each set record closes
today amid some of the highest trading volumes ever recorded on both the
New York Stock Exchange
. Yet, most market players chalked it up to just another day at the looms.
Someday, someone somewhere will be able to take a half-second to step back and offer some serious, thoughtful reflection on what is an increasingly complex market where the extraordinary has become mundane.
But this is not that day, I am not that person and this is not that place.
What I can (and will) offer are a few ideas and themes that are swirling in the ether around Wall Street.
Feeling Lucky, Punk?
I mentioned the market is "complex", but that's only if you look beyond a simple rule that's proven highly successful: Buy tech and biotech stocks.
Of course, that's an oversimplification because you need to be in the
stocks. But when
can go from 64 1/2 to 102 in a week and a day, or
can overcome its past
peccadilloes and rise 15% on news it is spinning off its slower-growing units (why didn't they think of that in the first place?), it does seem like the market is a dart thrower's paradise.
And that's not to mention the stunning gains posted by lesser-known tech plays such as
, which rose 72% today after receiving a patent for technology that will allow the removal and transfer of the "brains" of a computer.
Meanwhile, professional traders -- even those who profess to be tech bulls -- are contemplating the inevitable end, or stalling, of the group's run.
For those who dare (dare! I say) even consider such a scenario, Timothy Heekin, director of equity trading at
Thomas Weisel Partners
in San Francisco, said a "great idea" is to short the
Nasdaq 100 Trust
and go long the
, unit trusts which track the (
Dow Jones Industrial Average
Heekin observed the spread between the two trusts is "incredibly wide," as this chart illustrates.
Yet, despite its theoretical appeal, the trader admits it's "too early" to make the trade in real life (where real dollars could be lost).
"You could get run over real bad," he said. "I don't think there's a lot more downside to the Dow, but interest rates do not matter to these tech stocks. They have a life of their own and that's where the performance is."
To the long list of market pros who believe the ongoing tech-stock rampage "will not end well," add John Manley, equity strategist at
Salomon Smith Barney
The strategist is not calling for an imminent end to the tech-stock juggernaut, but notes "there's almost an infinite amount of money being given to people who think their growth is infinite." Almost by definition, not all of the ideas or all of the growth expectations are going to come to fruition, he said.
There are two risks to the "tech story," he said, namely demand and supply. Demand was the big concern at the end of last year, but fears that all the spending to prepare for Y2K would lead to a slowdown this year have clearly proven unfounded.
On the supply side, the tech industry has historically had problems of overbuilding, Manley recalled. "You haven't seen it yet," but "you give people effectively unlimited amounts of money and they'll keep growing until they have too much" capacity.
Then there's that other supply issue -- namely of stock. The big serving of
IPO supply late last summer may have caused some tummy aches, but it didn't choke the bull market.
This year, the huge supply of
secondary offerings hasn't (so far) brought major problems to the overall market. Nor have secondaries necessarily meant pain for every company offering additional shares (see
latest or charts of
or my old friends at
Finally, think about this: Last week there was minor ado about stock buybacks from "old-economy" firms such as
Those announcements helped stop the blue-chip bleeding. But on the other (wealthy) side of the tracks,
split 3-for-1, Lucent announced its
spinoff plans and
big step in its efforts to spring its offspring on the investing public. Then, of course, there's
IPO, which was priced tonight at $38 (vs. the already-increased expected range of $30 to $32).
And that's just stating the obvious, without mentioning the still-robust tech IPO calendar.
Supply problem? If there is one, it's that Silicon Valley and its minions think there
isn't enough to slake the public's unyielding thirst.
Wow! Time to wrap it up already. How time (and 1000 words) flies. There's so much more to potentially discuss, including (but not limited to) the latest moves in oil and the dollar, much less picking up where I left off
Any one of the above of could be grist for a full-blown story, but you tell me which (if any) deserve additional attention.
Aaron L. Task writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at