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Nasdaq rides 2 trends to record as S&P 500 stalls

The Nasdaq exchange is seen in New York City.
Getty Images
The Nasdaq exchange is seen in New York City.

The Nasdaq composite, which lost its cachet as a benchmark after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, is back on top, rising to a record high Friday after tripling the return of the S&P 500 this year.

The Nasdaq is riding two forces which it is more leveraged to than the S&P 500: its old friend digital innovation and, a booming biotech industry.

Video streaming company Netflix, Internet commerce giant Amazon.com and gaming app maker Electronic Arts are the three biggest gainers in the Nasdaq 100 this year. Netflix shares have doubled and Electronic Arts and Amazon are both up more than 50 percent.

After earnings blew past estimates Thursday night, Google joined in, pushing the Nasdaq composite to an intraday record Friday.

And then there's the biotech stocks, which overcame a valuation warning last year from Fed Chair Janet Yellen and a 12 percent pullback this year to hit another record this week. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF is up 30 percent in 2015.

With these giant forces not going anywhere, most investors see Nasdaq's big gains continuing.