The market was a pretty different place the last time the Nasdaq Composite Index was at 2000.

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On Nov. 27 1998, both the Nasdaq and the

S&P 500 posted what were then all-time closing highs. The Nasdaq rose 31.23, or 1.6%, to 2016.44, eclipsing the previous high of 2014.25, set the previous July 20. Until today, the Nasdaq hasn't returned to the 2000 mark. And today, as legions of investors know, it's hitting the psychologically key mark on the way down.

Sexy New Economy Internet issues were leading the charge back in 1998. Case in point -- on that Nov. 27, the Internet Sector

index jumped 67.91, or 19.6%, to a new all-time high of 414.31. Today, it's off 4.2% to 238.72.

The Nasdaq's first flirtation with 2000, in some ways, marked the beginning of the creation of the New Economy bubble that peaked last March. The market capitalization of stocks and trading volume ballooned. What was then average daily volume of around 802 million shares has soared to a daily average of about 1.7 billion shares. The market value of the 5,126 companies listed on Nasdaq stood at $2.6 trillion at the end of 1998. As's

Jim Cramer

recently detailed, recent loses alone have wiped away

trillions of dollars from Nasdaq names.

And the four horseman of the market that helped direct the tech charge higher have lost their leadership positions. Software giant


(MSFT) - Get Report

, chipmaker


(INTC) - Get Report

, PC maker


(DELL) - Get Report

and telecom



once led the tech sector to new highs. No more. Instead, each is significantly off its highs, and investors are searching for companies that will become the new market leaders.

Paul Rich, a trader at

BT Brokerage

, back in 1998 said of the market: "The mood is to the upside and has been for a while. Fundamentals are intact and I don't see any reason for the market to go down." He was right. It didn't -- for a long time, at least. Over the following year, the index's value almost doubled to 3448 -- and by March of 2000, it had soared to 5000.

But even then, talk was starting that froth and speculation were infecting the market. Gary Kaltbaum, chief technical analyst at

J.W. Genesis Securities

in Boca Raton, Fla., told


Aaron Task

on Nov. 27 1998 that, "technicals look good, but the sentiment of the market is ridiculous and frothy."

And so it was.