The tech-heavy Nasdaq is up more than 25% since touching its crisis low on March 23, now sitting at its highest level in 7 weeks. Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Amazon, and Google – though lower on Tuesday – are helping to fuel the rally ahead of first-quarter earnings reports which are expected to shed light on the coronavirus’ impact on America’s largest employers.
“Young investors are telling us what they're interested in, and we've seen ESG [environmental, social and governance] outperform,” said Nasdaq’s EVP and Head of North American Markets, Tal Cohen, while speaking at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit Extra. “We've seen the Nasdaq 100, which is fairly tech led, outperform. So people are putting money to work in parts of the economy they think are important, they think that are the future.”
“This crisis has really been unprecedented for us,” Cohen said. “It really started in the middle of February where we saw volatility pick up in our options market and then roll through our equity markets. We have seen the 10 top activity days ever in our options market, and then on February 28, we saw the highest volatility and activity on our equity markets. And we saw the VIX, as a measure of fear, hit 85 in March.”
The CBOE Volatility Index, also known as the VIX or Wall Street’s fear gauge, is well off its March highs, settling comfortably in the low 30s. Although the VIX is still at historically high levels, Cohen said the stock market is getting better at absorbing information about the COVID-19 crisis, telling Yahoo Finance, “the markets have functioned incredibly well” throughout the pandemic.
“It's really important to be open and functioning for investors during their time of need because if they need access to capital, but can't access the markets, that's a problem,” he said. “Unlike any other crisis, I think this will have a long-lasting effect on the psychology of, not just the markets and investors and public companies, but on society.”
Cohen spoke to Yahoo Finance’s “Final Round” as part of special segment that previews the All Markets Summit, a businesses and financial conference that will take place in New York City on Oct. 26. The conference will take up the issue of “Generational Opportunities” — how leaders are building and refining new relationships in a time of profound generational, cultural, and economic change.