Stock Market Today: Stocks Tread Water, Bitcoin Joins the Trillion-Dollar Club
The Dow finished flat as a pancake as the stock market continues to stall against all-time highs, but Bitcoin continued building a head of steam.
We've discussed this week the idea that the stock market might be running out of gas, and that certainly appeared to be the case Friday, as stocks finished mixed after giving up most of their morning gains.
That wasn't a problem for the digital currency Bitcoin, however.
Traders found several positive economic indicators to consider. U.S. businesses are expanding at their strongest rate in six years, according to IHS Markit's flash reading of the purchasing managers index, which rose to 58.8 in February from 58.7 in the month prior. And Deere (DE, +9.6%) provided some optimism after raising its 2021 profit forecast amid expectations for better equipment sales.
However, a pop at the market open lost steam as the day progressed, fitting right in with a week that saw equities struggle up against all-time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, up 154 points at its zenith, finished less than 1 point higher instead, closing at 31,494.
One potential problem remains just how optimistically priced stocks are already.
"Most of our indicators suggest stocks are pricing in a lot of good news," says Savita Subramanian, equity and quant strategist for BofA Securities. "In fact, over $3T in stimulus may already be priced in on one measure: the ratio of S&P 500 market cap to the M2 money supply. The ratio currently stands at 1.7x, the highest level since Feb 2020, and to get to the post-crisis average of 1.4x, we estimate additional $3.1T of M2 would be needed."
Other action in the stock market today:
- The S&P 500 declined 0.2% to 3,906.
- The Nasdaq Composite finished with a marginal gain to 13,874.
- The small-cap Russell 2000 rebounded after a dreary Thursday, rising 2.2% to 2,266.
- U.S. crude oil futures declined 0.8% to settle at $60.05 per barrel.
- Gold futures gained 0.1% to $1,777.40 per ounce.
Bitcoin: The Trillion-Dollar Cryptocurrency
If the stock market has lost its momentum this week, Bitcoin has surely found it. The digital currency, which has exploded by more than 1,300% since its 2020 bear-market lows, continues to grab Wall Street's attention as it reaches new milestones.
On Friday, Bitcoin prices eclipsed the $55,000 mark and finished regular trading hours at $55,397. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.) That marks a 6.3% daily climb, and an 18.8% jump higher since Monday morning.
Assets invested in Bitcoin have now surpassed $1 trillion; for perspective, if Bitcoin were a publicly traded company, it would now be worth more than Tesla (TSLA, $749 billion) or Facebook (FB, $745 billion).
Fueling that gain is one of the drivers we cited in our 2021 outlook for Bitcoin: institutional investors, who are quickly pouring huge sums of money into Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
Should you join them?
Bitcoin remains a high-risk investment, and also a difficult-to-access one if you only have a traditional brokerage account – you can't buy the digital currency without accessing a cryptocurrency exchange. But you can purchase crypto-connected companies such as these eight stocks. And you can also access crypto via a small but growing number of funds, similar to how you'd buy SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) to gain exposure to gold.
Read on as we introduce you to the newest option for crypto investors – a Bitcoin fund that charges less than half the fees of the current market leader – and explain its perks, as well as potential future threats.