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Stock Market Today: Nasdaq Up; Could This Tech Beat Apple? When To Buy Back Bitcoin | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

The Nasdaq composite edged roughly 0.3% higher in afternoon trading Friday and looks poised to stage a third up week in a row. At 7316, the tech-centered index is up nearly 0.8% for the week.

X Meanwhile, Google site operator Alphabet (GOOGL) has got off to a roaring start, at least among megacap names, in 2018. Shares are down slightly, yet the stock has now advanced 7.7% since Jan. 1.

Apple (AAPL)  is up 5.5% since Jan. 1. The iPhone giant, though, has had a masterful run since breaking out of a first-stage cup with handle at 118.12 back on Jan. 6, 2017.

More recently, Apple cleared a 106.97 entry in an eight-week cup with handle Oct. 27, just ahead of reporting robust quarterly results.

Nevertheless, both stocks are acting in healthy fashion following recent breakouts. Alphabet has rolled nearly 13% since it cleared a 1,006.29 entry in a 10-week flat base on Oct. 11.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2% on the back of gains in meat, tobacco, truck, electronic parts, shoe retail, specialty retail and lodging shares. Breadth is positive on both exchanges. Winning issues are exceeding losers by a more than 2-1 margin on the Nasdaq and roughly 9-5 on the NYSE.

The Dow Jones industrial average is off 0.2%. IBM (IBM) is weighing on the Dow Jones industrials, sliding more than 7 points or 4% to 161.56 following a big gap up Wednesday.

An additional four of the 30 components in the Dow industrials, including American Express (AXP) and Visa (V), are down 1 point or more. Amex dropped more than 3% to 96.75 and is undercutting the key 50-day moving average in whale-like volume. It’s the first time Amex has probed the medium-term support level since early September.

The financial services powerhouse reported a net loss of $1.41 a share on a 12% revenue increase to $9.42 billion.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC)backed off 57.93 to 1,799 in very light volume. The closed end fund that tracks the popular alternative digital currency is trying to hold above its fast-rising 50-day moving average.

While a pullback to the 50-day line and subsequent rebound can serve as a legitimate follow-on entry, keep in mind that the fund has already made a tremendous price run following a Nov. 22 breakout past 985.10 in a very deep cup with handle. The gain from that buy point reached as much as 257%.

In addition, climax-run-style action also makes it more likely that Bitcoin Investment may need more time to shape another potential good base and supply a better entry point.

Alphabet Vs. Apple

One major differentiator between Alphabet and Apple for investors is the fact that for years, the former has been investing in self-driving technology that in the future could become standard in all vehicles. Some observers believe that its software development may eventually become a significant new revenue driver.

For now, digital ads remain Alphabet’s bread and butter. In the past six quarters, revenue has climbed 21%, 20%, 22%, 22%, 21% and 24% vs. year-ago levels. That fantastic growth has boosted earnings as well, up 42%, 27%, 7%, 28%, 27% and 32% vs. year-ago levels over the same time frame.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters see earnings jumping 32% in the fourth quarter of 2017 to $10 a share, which would be a quarterly high. Alphabet has 694 million shares outstanding across all share classes and a float of 295 million. Revenue is seen rising 22% to $31.85 billion.

Alphabet is slated to report Q4 results Feb. 1 after the close. The stock earns a top-notch 99 Composite Rating on IBD Stock Checkup, as well as an A for SMR Rating that tracks sales growth, profit margins, and return on equity.

Apple continues to be on a solid growth track as well. The Street sees earnings in the December-ended fiscal first quarter rising 13% to $3.78 a share, then accelerating to a 38% gain to $2.90 in the March-ending second quarter, on revenue gains of 10% and 29%.

Elsewhere, the Dow utility average edged 0.1% higher despite another sell-off in U.S. Treasury bonds, sending the yield on the benchmark 10-year bond up to 2.63%, eclipsing the March 2017 high of 2.62%.

WTI crude oil prices fell 0.9% to $63.36 a barrel.

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