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Top Nasdaq Stocks Don't Care About the White House: Here's Why

By Dan Caplinger – Updated Nov 4, 2020 at 1:18PM

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The Nasdaq Composite had soared almost 4% by midday Wednesday.

Hundreds of millions of Americans are watching election results trickle in without any firm sense of who will win the presidency. But investors in the stocks that make up the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -1.00%) have already received the news they wanted to hear, and the key stock benchmark is soaring in response.

The Nasdaq Composite was up more than 400 points as of 11:30 a.m. EST on Wednesday, approaching a 4% gain for the day. The biggest tech stocks listed on the Nasdaq were the driving force behind the index's rise. To understand the Nasdaq's move, you first have to realize that in large part, the fears of investors in Big Tech now appear to be off the table.

White House as seen from north lawn, with Washington Monument in background.

Image source: Getty Images.

What the biggest Nasdaq stocks did Wednesday morning

It's easy to understand the Nasdaq's nearly 4% jump in the context of these stock performances:

  • iPhone pioneer Apple (AAPL -1.79%) rose nearly 4%.
  • Software giant Microsoft (MSFT -0.61%) delivered an even more impressive gain of more than 5%.
  • Top tech contributors Amazon (AMZN -1.17%), Facebook (META -0.25%), and Alphabet (GOOGL -1.79%) (GOOG -1.66%) weighed in with gains between 6% and 8%.
  • In the Nasdaq-100 Index, Tesla was the only stock among the 40 biggest constituents to see a downward move as of 11:30 a.m. EST.

To be clear, the rally wasn't confined to the Nasdaq. Other key market benchmarks also posted gains. But the rise for other stock market indexes was considerably smaller than what Nasdaq investors saw.

Big Tech doesn't want to go to Washington

One of the big worries that the largest technology companies in the U.S. market have faced lately is that the federal government would pursue allegations of antitrust violations more aggressively. That would potentially challenge the dominance that these companies have developed in many important niches of the tech and communication services sectors.

Just a week ago, top executives from Facebook, Alphabet's Google, and Twitter (TWTR) appeared before Congress for testimony regarding parts of federal law that form the foundation of the social media industry. At stake were the legal protections that internet-based companies enjoy despite their being conduits for content that can cause reputational and financial harm to its targets.

As much of a nuisance as these and similar hearings in recent years have been, the consequences haven't been particularly severe for these tech companies. But the prospects for Democrats to take control of both chambers of Congress as well as the presidency had made some anticipate much greater danger for Big Tech.

To be clear, that danger hasn't passed. As of midday Wednesday, no major news outlets had made definitive calls about congressional control. But many key races were leaning toward Republicans, narrowing the chances that Washington will no longer have a divided government once the final results are in and newly elected officials take office in January.

Keep a long-term perspective

It's important to remember that even with today's extraordinary gains in the Nasdaq, the index has only climbed back to where it was a couple of weeks ago. Yet given all the uncertainty surrounding the election, even to see that level of investor confidence was a shot in the arm for long-term market bulls.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Dan Caplinger owns shares of Alphabet (A shares) and Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Tesla, and Twitter and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft, short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft, short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon, and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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