On this day, fifteen years ago, stock speculators were having a field day, thinking the free ride in equities would never end.
Such foolishness has been witnessed before on Wall Street and in markets not as crazed as the dotcom days of the NASDAQ, and, this time, despite protestations from fast-money hucksters everywhere, it would not be different, because, within a few days the NASDAQ fell some 400 points, from its intra-day high of 5,132.52 and close on March 10, 2000 of 5,048.62, to a close of 4,610.00 just 10 days later.
But, the carnage was only beginning. Here are the closing figures for the NASDAQ for selected year 2000 dates:
April 4: 4,148.89
April 14: 3,321.29
December 21: 2,340.12
December 31: 2,470.52
Many of us remember what happened post-2000, as the NASDAQ lost more than half of its value and the portfolios of the tech boom were turned to burnt bits and bytes. Following the explosion and crash of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the US exchanges were shut down for nearly a week. On September 21, five days after resumption of trading, the NASDAQ cratered to a close of 1,423.19, having lost more than two-thirds of its value in just a year-and-a-half.
The road back to euphoria has been long and bumpy, and perhaps it was fitting that today, the NYSE's opening bell would be rung by its biggest bozo booster, the unflappable and egregiously uber-bullish Jim Cramer, he of CNBC and Mad Money fame.
Just after Cramer pushed the magic button, vigorous selling began, taking the NASDAQ down 43 points, the Dow lower by 145 and the S&P off by 17. Before 10:00 am EDT, the NAZ had shed 55, the Dow, 200, the S&P, 21.
At 10:00 am EDT, the market got a whiff of bad news (which, in the perverse parlance of Wall Street, interpreted as good, because any indication of weakness in the US economy might delay the Fed from raising rates) when Wholesale Sales came in at a -3.1% for February, the third straight month-over-month decline, comparing back to March 2009 when the metric registered the last of five straight monthly drops.
The news was barely helpful, however, with European markets struggling, European currencies crashing (the euro was under 1.07 and falling) and US treasuries ripping.
Shortly after noon, the Dow hit new lows, -270; the NASDAQ was off 73 points, the S&P broken through support at 2060, trading at 2050, down 29 points.
Yra Harris, who pens the Notes From Underground blog, may have said it best when speaking with Rick Santelli on CNBC, referencing Simon and Garfunkel, with a message for the Fed, the ECB and central bankers globally, warning, "all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity..." (see below for video)
Stocks on all indices hugged the bottom of the day's trading range for the remainder of the session. What was surprising to some - though not to all - was the lack of buyers coming to the rescue with the old "buy the dip" response. Selling accelerated into the close.
Maybe because the NASDAQ, in particular, has suffered losses in four of the last six sessions, notably, right on the heels of the index breaching the 5,000 level to the upside on the first trading day of March. There's an old saying that goes along the lines of, "nobody rings a bell at the top,; though that mystical, magical 5,000 handle might have been all the top-thumping some traders felt necessary to unload at a profit.
One could hardly blame anybody bailing out at these lofty levels. Six years and one day ago, on March 9, 2009, the NASDAQ stood at 1,268.64. It has nearly quadrupled since that moment in market history.
Well, Happy Anniversary!
Dow 17,662.94, -332.78 (-1.85%)
S&P 500 2,044.24, -35.19 (-1.69%)
NASDAQ 4,859.79, -82.64 (-1.67%)
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel Homeward Bound Central Park concert