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Semiconductors, Biotechs Send Nasdaq Soaring

By Dan Caplinger – Oct 5, 2020 at 3:48PM

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Find out how these two industries affected the market.

The stock market had a huge celebration on Monday, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) was the biggest winner among major large-cap stock indexes. The benchmark climbed more than 2% in the last hour of trading, buoyed by optimism about the prospects for further economic stimulus and other support for struggling Americans.

Among top performers in the Nasdaq were semiconductor stocks and biotech stocks. They rose for different reasons, but both have big growth prospects in common.

Chipping away

Shares of major Nasdaq semiconductor companies did well on Monday. NVIDIA (NVDA -1.16%) was higher by 4%, while Advanced Micro Devices (AMD 0.27%) added 5% and Lam Research (LRCX -0.27%) rose by 4%.

Semiconductor chip attached to a motherboard.

Image source: Getty Images.

NVIDIA in particular made news on several fronts. The company's new Maxine platform is designed to improve online video conferencing, adding functionality that should help make all those video calls more bearable. New AI software will also make it easier for software developers to handle various cloud computing needs, while NVIDIA is also taking aim at Intel (INTC 0.61%) with new data center chips.

Yet NVIDIA doesn't have the chip space all to itself. AMD has also done a good job of eating away at Intel's long dominance. Meanwhile, Lam Research has cashed in on the strong demand for semiconductor production with its chip equipment business.

Tech advances have lifted the entire sector, but just about everything relies on semiconductors to run. That's why the industry has done so well and why prospects for these stocks remain strong.

A healthier showing

Elsewhere, the biotech industry fared well. Among top Nasdaq stocks, Amgen (AMGN -0.22%) was higher by more than 4%, while Seattle Genetics (SGEN -3.18%) climbed almost 5% and Biogen (BIIB -0.17%) picked up 3%.

Amgen came out with good news over the weekend. The biotech giant said that its Aimovig treatment for episodic migraine showed significant reductions in days per month suffering from migraine headaches. Safety characteristics were also favorable.

Yet biotechs and other companies in the healthcare space have also come under criticism. Last week, Congressional hearings brought Amgen officials before the House of Representatives, where they faced scrutiny over drug pricing practices.

Part of the attention that the biotech industry is getting today has to do with President Donald Trump and his recent COVID-19 diagnosis. With medical professionals treating the president with a host of candidate treatments, including some by key biotech players, investors are getting a bird's eye view of how effective certain medications might be in stopping the pandemic.

Lots of oars pulling the Nasdaq forward

It's easy to think of the Nasdaq as simply consisting of the top technology companies in the world. Certainly, much of the weight in the Nasdaq 100 index comes from those tech giants.

However, there's a lot more about the current Nasdaq rally than just the biggest companies in overall tech. Components like semiconductors are unsung heroes of the tech sector, while biotech is also a high-growth area with tons of potential for advances over the long run. Shareholders stand to benefit from those advances when they come.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Biogen, Lam Research, NVIDIA, and Seattle Genetics. The Motley Fool recommends Amgen and Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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