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S&P nears new high, but times have changed

Alisa Roth May 23, 2007

S&P nears new high, but times have changed

Alisa Roth May 23, 2007


KAI RYSSDAL: Today’s Wednesday, the 23rd of May. Which makes it seven years, one month and 29 days since the S & P hit its record high: 1,527.46 was the close that day. Investors were oh-so close, once again today, just as they have been all week. Missed by about 5 points.

When people talk about the broader market, the S& P 500’s one of the things they’re talking about. A lot of analysts see it as the most accurate snapshot of what’s going on. But what they’re seeing now, both in the index and the whole stock market, is very different than the last time Wall Street was posting these kinds of numbers. Marketplace’s Alisa Roth explains.

ALISA ROTH: Back in 2000, information technology was the biggest sector in the S & P 500 Index, by far: about a third of the stocks represented were IT companies.

Today, it’s fewer than half that — only about 15 percent.

Energy companies are much better represented than they were before, and they’re helping lead the rally, even though they were the laggards seven years ago. So is it even fair to set today’s record against the last one?

Peter Bookvar is an equity strategist at Miller Tabak.

PETER BOOKVAR: It’s really not apples to apples, but it’s, I guess, the best that we have. I think the point is, is that the companies that are in are still representative of similar sectors that existed seven years ago or 10 years ago or whatever.

In any case, he says, it’s not so important what stocks are pushing the S & P up. What counts is whether the market as a whole keeps doing well.

Richard Sparks is an equities analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. He says today’s markets have little in common with those heady old days.

RICHARD SPARKS: It’s not an over-the-top, bullish rally that we’re seeing — like we did back in ’99 and 2000, when people were buying anything that wasn’t nailed down. And people were buying hand-over-fist with no discrimination, and they were buying companies that had no earnings to speak of.

Between 1995 and 2000, the S & P more than tripled. It hasn’t even doubled since the current rally began around four years ago.

Sparks says that’s because today’s investors are much more tentative. And that, he says, is a good thing — deliberate investors could keep the rally going.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

RYSSDAL: For those out there who’re curious, the NASDAQ’s still about half its all-time record.

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