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The Nasdaq Composite was briefly on track Friday for its first record close in more than two years, but the tech-heavy benchmark stock index remained shy of that as investors pondered the staying power of a rally fueled by optimism around artificial intelligence.

The Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
comprised of most of the stocks that trade on the Nasdaq stock exchange and one of the world’s most closely followed benchmarks, closed down nearly 0.3% Friday at 15,996. It had earlier traded as high as 16,134.22, above its record close of 16,057.44, set on Nov. 19, 2021. The index had also been briefly on track for a record close Thursday before trimming its gain.

The Nasdaq Composite’s all-time intraday high was set on Nov. 22, 2021, at 16,212.23.

Through Friday, the Nasdaq has gone 566 trading days without a record close, according to Dow Jones Market Data. That’s the longest such stretch since a run of 3,801 trading days from March 2000 to April 2015, following the bursting of the dot-com bubble.

The other two major U.S. stock indexes — the large-cap benchmark S&P 500
SPX
and blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA
— both ended at record highs Thursday, and were extending their gains on Friday. The Dow has notched 13 record finishes so far in 2024 through Thursday, while the S&P 500 has seen 12.

Nvidia Corp.
NVDA,
+0.36%

shares surged more than 16% Thursday after reporting blowout earnings results late Wednesday that exceeded an already high bar for the maker of artificial-intelligence semiconductors. Nvidia shares rose another 2% on Friday.

They have rallied nearly 60% so far in 2024 and are up roughly 275% over the last 12 months, contributing to a rally led by a handful of megacap technology stocks seen as likely to benefit most from AI advances.

See: Stock surge could add $200 billion to Nvidia market cap with ‘mammoth growth’ on tap

A close in record territory would largely put to rest any lingering doubts about the return of a bull market for the Nasdaq Composite.

The Nasdaq’s long drought after the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000 left many investors particularly wary of declaring a return of the bull market after the index’s most recent slide. After all, the Nasdaq saw three rallies of 40% or more over the course of the bear market that followed the dot-com bust, with none marking the beginning of a lasting bull, analysts at Baird Private Wealth Management had noted previously.


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