What a day! For the second time in three days, the stock market plunged off a cliff, a reminder that anxiety about the economy and rising interest rates remain as intense as ever. The recovery in stocks we saw starting in mid-March is now just a distant memory. The Nasdaq’s closing level today was its lowest all year and was 22% below the high point it reached in November. There’s no end in sight for the bear market.
The good news, for techies, was that Microsoft and Alphabet reported reasonably healthy numbers for the March quarter. The two companies are probably the best positioned of all those that will report this week, so let’s not jump to any conclusions. And certainly there were signs of weakness for both of them. Google’s YouTube showed a marked slowdown in ad growth, to just 14.4%, from 25% in the fourth quarter, amid broader slowing of its ad revenue. Meanwhile, the parts of Microsoft’s business that are exposed to advertising, particularly search, also slowed. But if you listened to comments from executives of both companies on their analyst calls, you wouldn’t know there was any kind of economic slowdown on the horizon at all (more on Alphabet’s results here and on Microsoft’s here).