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Thu, Apr 13, 2000
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Wall Street Strategist Eyes Nasdaq 5,000
  Fox Market Wire
NEW YORK — With the memory of a troubling correction in the Dow still painfully fresh, it's remarkable that the technology-heavy Nasdaq may just be days away from breaking the 5,000 mark on its way to even higher ground.

The catalyst for the Nasdaq's meteoric rise may be as mundane as investors plowing tax refund money into biotech and Internet names, chasing what could be the next high-flyer, said Scott Bleier, an investment strategist at Prime Charter.

Nasdaq bolted through the 4,700 mark Wednesday on biotech strength to log its 13th record of the year. It has gained 700 points in just eight weeks and is up 17.5 percent in 2000.

"But I don't think 4,700 is really the number. I think the number is 5,000," said Bleier, chief investment strategist at Prime Charter Ltd. "I think Nasdaq can hit 5,000 in only a couple of days. It doesn't need a whole lot of time, considering we're at 4,780.

"That is such an incredible level of performance, not only relative to itself but to its peers and the other indices," he said.

Gains in biotechnology stocks have boosted the tech-driven index to unprecedented heights in 2000. On Wednesday, the Nasdaq composite index surged 1.86 percent, or 87.39 points, to close at 4,784.08 on record volume of 2.24 billion shares.

The Nasdaq biotech index itself has climbed an astounding 73 percent so far this year, making it Nasdaq's best performing sector. On Wednesday, the gauge flew to 1,528.71, a new high and a gain of 3.55 percent.

"Everybody wants to own the same stocks and money managers being forced to jettison the old line and buy the new age," Bleier told Reuters late Wednesday.

"There are no earnings worries to burden many of these stocks," he said, noting that investors are buying many of the hot new biotech and Internet names based on hopes of future earnings and corporate successes, not real-time successes.

That recurring rally in once-ignored, small-time stocks, has also lifted the Russell 2000 index to new highs while the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average has lagged. The Dow is down 11.82 percent this year while the Nasdaq is up 17.56 percent and the Russell, up 16.56 percent.

"Nasdaq has changed the structure of the market. People want to know what the Nasdaq is doing, not what the Dow is doing," Bleier said. "When they ask about the market, they want to know what Yahoo!, Qualcomm, and JDS Uniphase have done. People want the next 30-point gainer.

"Is it going to end at some point? Yes. When? I don't know. Do we need to be in on this? Absolutely," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report

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