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Stocks broadly fall as Nasdaq dips modestly, SaaS gains on the day

Alex Wilhelm, Kirsten Korosec and Jonathan Shieber
financial stock market graph on technology abstract background represent risk of investment

The technology industry's central role in an American economy shaped by attempts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is being reflected in how investors are approaching markets in these turbulent times.

As the broader economy stumbles, technology companies and the major exchange they call home seem to be somewhat more of a safe-haven given the ways in which companies are relying on their services in the time of social distancing.

That means the Nasdaq doesn't fall quite so far as other indexes and can better shake off news of a stalled economic stimulus package in Washington or the surge in COVID-19 infections in the US.

Indeed, in regular trading today the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was down sharply. The S&P 500 dipped a little less, but was mostly in line. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, however, was not. And perhaps even more surprising, a key subset of the technology world wasn't down at all -- it was up.

Here's how today's trading left us:

  • DJIA: -582.05, -3.04% (-37.12% from 52 week highs)
  • S&P 500: -67.52, -2.93% (-34.07% from 52 week highs)
  • Nasdaq: -18.84, -0.27% (-30.27% from 52 week highs)
  • BVP Nasdaq Emerging Cloud Index: +21.43, +2.12% (-28.03% from 52 week highs)

The day's declines did not stem from a single fundamental cause. Some financial publications highlighted congressional inaction as the reason. You could easily add rising COVID-19 infections to the list. (Notably while the public markets continue their dive, private investors are still putting nine-figure capital rounds together, which feels contrarian.)

Let's narrow more. While the Cloud Index tracks SaaS companies -- a key startup niche for the venture class -- other industries are making interesting moves as well. Let's take a peek at Uber and Lyft, which enjoyed a surge late last week on the back of Uber promising not to die, following market concerns about its health.

Uber saw shares rise 3.99% to close at $22.40. Lyft shares also rose 6.3% to $22.61 at market close. The two companies are still below their highs in 2020. Lyft and Uber hit year-to-date highs on February at $53.94 and $41.27 respectively.

Other mobility related companies such as automakers saw mixed results. Ford shares took a hit and fell 7.18% to close at $4 after Fitch Ratings downgraded the automaker to a skosh above non-investment grade with a negative outlook driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ford is now rate BBB-.

GM shares also fell 2.98% to $17.60. Meanwhile, Tesla shares rose 1.58% to $434.29 a share.