Trading Nation

Something the Dow did in 1954 could point to a big tech rally ahead

Trading Nation: Stocks hit record highs

A quarter of a century after the great market crash of 1929, the Dow Jones industrial average finally broke above the highs of that portentous year. And what happened next could provide a roadmap for what stocks are set to do in the years ahead, according to technical analyst Matt Maley.

Late in 1929, the Dow fell devastatingly from its 380-and-change September 1929 peak, which in hindsight marked the top of an epic bubble. It wasn't until late 1954 that the Dow finally rose back above that high-water mark. The Dow left 380 in the dust, getting within spitting distance of 1,000 by February 1966.

Maley, technical analyst and equity strategist at Miller Tabak, says there's a modern analogue: The turn-of-the-millennium dotcom bubble, which in March 2000 led the Nasdaq 100 to touch a level it wouldn't surpass until late 2016. The tech-dominated index has already seen a substantial rise since hitting a record high, but the historical precedent set by the Dow could suggest that the rally has serious legs.

"The ridiculous bubble top in 2000 … was very similar to the crazy bubble top that took place in the DJIA in 1929," Maley wrote in an email Thursday to CNBC. Based on the post-1954 performance of the Dow, the Nasdaq 100's "post-break rally is [its] infancy (the first inning) and if it is anything like the breakout in the DJIA back in the 1950s, it still has a long way to go," he concluded.

For that reason, Maley would suggest that those bullish on stocks buy the popular ETF tracking the Nasdaq 100, the QQQ, rather than the SPY ETF, which tracks the S&P 500.

In addition to his longer-term thesis, Maley notes that the QQQ has broken above its recent range "much more significantly" than has the SPY, which means it has a better chance of "bottoming above its old range."

Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 hit record highs in Thursday trading.

However, taking a fundamental tact, Chad Morganlander of Washington Crossing Advisors says investors are better off turning to the S&P 500

"Go long the S&P 500 for a more consistent, less volatile return in 2017," Morganlander advised on Thursday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Not only does the SPY tend to be less volatile than the QQQ, but at about 18 times forward earnings, the S&P 500 finds itself at a more attractive valuation than the Nasdaq 100, which is trading at nearly 20 times (according to numbers from S&P Capital IQ).

"Valuations do matter," Morganlander said.