Stock Market Today: Nasdaq Sizzles Again, New-Look Dow Drags

Monday's gains in Apple (AAPL) and Tesla (TSLA) helped the Nasdaq polish off its best August since 2020; the Dow dropped but still posted its best August return since 1984.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The stock market closed out August with a familiar theme from the past few months: The Nasdaq Composite surging ahead while the Dow Jones Industrial Average's blue-chips fail to keep up.

The Nasdaq, which jumped 0.7% to a record-high 11,775.46, was helped by two of the highest-profile stocks of the day: Apple (AAPL (opens in new tab), +3.4%) and Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab), +12.6%), which both started trading on a split-adjusted basis Monday.

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Apple split its shares 4-for-1, while Tesla executed a 5-for-1 split, making their shares far more accessible to "mom 'n' pop" investors.

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Tesla's stock, in particular, is a difficult one for analysts to peg. Consider Wedbush, which updated its price target and outlook on Tesla to account for the stock split. While its 12-month price target is $380 (a 31% decline from here), it has a $700 bull-case scenario that has TSLA shares climbing another 40% from here.

"We believe the stock split decision was a smart move by Tesla and its Board given the parabolic move in shares over the past six months ... and likely other larger tech stalwarts will follow this same path over the coming months in our opinion," writes Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, who points out "any regulatory and/or production issues out of Gigafactory 3 would be a clear negative growth catalyst for the name."

The Dow, meanwhile, slumped 0.8% to 28,430. It received little help from its three newest components: Amgen (AMGN (opens in new tab), +0.1%), Salesforce.com (CRM (opens in new tab), +0.6%) and Honeywell (HON (opens in new tab), -1.7%).

The Nasdaq has roughly doubled up the Dow, +24.6% to +12.4%, since the end of May. The Dow did put together a strong 7.6% improvement this month, marking its best gain since 1984, but the Nasdaq sparkled even more – its 9.6% gain marked the tech-heavy index's best August since 2000.

Other notables from the stock market today:

  • The S&P 500 closed down 0.2%, to 3,500, but still finished up 7% for the month – its best August since 1986.
  • The small-cap Russell 2000 declined 0.9% to 1,563, bringing its monthly return to +5.5%.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Investors might not like what comes next. September is historically the weakest month of the year, and the Dow has been particularly weak, averaging 1% losses since 1896. The market also tends to really take it on the chin after a strong August, with the S&P 500 dropping 8.5% (in 1986) and 5.4% (in 2000) the past two times it gained more than 5% in August.

Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist for LPL Financial, points out that the seasonal pain could last longer than usual, too: "What caught our attention was both September and October have a negative (S&P 500) return during election years, with October the worst month of the year," he says.

If those trends have you worried, you can always put some of your portfolio in cash and put it to work on any dips.

But what, if anything, to buy now? Investors should put an even higher premium on fair prices and quality balance sheets at the moment, as overbought and weakly positioned stocks could be hit harder than most if the broader market's tide turns the wrong way.

That even goes for the 30 Dow blue chips. Every last one boasts storied brands and large market values, but their potential for gains vary widely. Amid the recent industrial average reshuffling, we've taken a fresh look at how Wall Street's analyst community views each and every Dow stock.

Kyle Woodley
Senior Investing Editor, Kiplinger.com

Kyle is senior investing editor for Kiplinger.com. As a writer and columnist, he also specializes in exchange-traded funds. He joined Kiplinger in September 2017 after spending six years at InvestorPlace.com, where he managed the editorial staff. His work has appeared in several outlets, including U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money, he has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, and he has been quoted in MarketWatch, Vice and Univision, among other outlets. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism.