TD Ameritrade's retail clients have sought refuge in a pair of well-known technology giants during the stock market's recent volatility, according to the brokerage's chief market strategist, JJ Kinahan. "When people talk about buy the dip … [ Apple and Microsoft ] are the first two stocks retail traders usually start with," Kinahan said Friday in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "When things are in trouble, those are the two places people tend to turn to overall." However, Kinahan said there was a bit of a new wrinkle to that tendency this week: Buyers didn't flock to Microsoft until the company released better-than-expected earnings and a cheery outlook on Tuesday. "There was a little bit more trepidation than I normally would've expected. Whenever we see this downward movement, those two tend to get heavy activity," Kinahan said. "Apple it was normal," he said, explaining that clients "absolutely" were buying shares of the iPhone maker even before its strong quarterly results dropped after Thursday's market close. In general, Kinahan said the brokerage's retail investors "are continuing to be engaged with the markets," even as Wall Street is off to a rocky start in the new year. At the same time, he acknowledged it's a far cry from where things were a year ago. Kinahan's comments on CNBC came exactly one year after Robinhood and other brokerages placed trading restrictions on a handful of stocks, including GameStop , during the Reddit-fueled frenzy. "This year, we've seen people be more cautious as they go into buying things, and we're seeing more names that you know," said Kinahan, noting that in December the firm's retail clients were actually doing more selling than buying. "We're not seeing that meme stock mania. We're not seeing people running into the AMC s and GameStops this year." Kinahan said he's going to be paying close attention to Tesla in the near term in an attempt to gauge retail sentiment. "I really use that stock as a measure of confidence," he said. "As people get more confident, they'll jump into" shares of the electric vehicle maker. More clients started buying Tesla on Thursday afternoon as the stock struggled, he said. A day earlier, CEO Elon Musk said during the company's Wednesday earnings call that Tesla would not launch new vehicle models in 2022. The stock fell more than 11% on Thursday , and was down slightly on Friday. — Sign up now for the CNBC Investing Club to follow Jim Cramer's every move in the market. Disclaimer
A Microsoft store in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
TD Ameritrade's retail clients have sought refuge in a pair of well-known technology giants during the stock market's recent volatility, according to the brokerage's chief market strategist, JJ Kinahan.