They’re baaaaack. Retail participation in the stock market just surpassed the GameStop days.

It’s getting out of control. Even before Jerome Powell incorrectly told a MarketWatch colleague that financial conditions hadn’t changed very much, all manner of risky assets have stormed higher.

up 42% this year. The ARK Innovation ETF
which in 2022 lost about two-thirds of its value, also up 42%. The Roundhill MEME ETF

has jumped 38%.

The Great Unwashed have noticed. Near the end of January, retail market orders as a percent of market value reached 23% on Jan. 23, according to data from JPMorgan. To put that in perspective, it got to 22% a few times when GameStop

first started surging in value and everyone was talking about Roaring Kitting and Reddit Wall Street Bets.

Data from JPMorgan shows retail’s percent of market volume on an upswing.


was the most sold stock by retail investors, while Amazon and Apple were the most bought, according to JPMorgan analyst Peng Chang, using data up to Wednesday. (Oops? More on Amazon and Apple later.)

There also was strong demand for emerging market equities, gold, and credit ETFs. Thematically, Chang detected strong retail interest in areas including oil underperformers and labor intensive companies with poor sentiment, but selling of green/EV infrastructure and 5G broadband plays.

Chang doesn’t venture where all this is leading. Charlie McElligott of Nomura, who ahead of the Fed decision said it would be hard for Powell to meet “hawkish hike” expectations, lays it out.

“You’ve been greenlighted to re-risk,” when you add the Fed talk to the Bank of England and European Central Bank commentary this week that suggested there aren’t many rate hikes left, he said. “It sure looks like a coordinated ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ signaling…which is now turning this into an outright ‘asset allocation’ flow to simply reverse the damage of last year’s positioning.”

Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at Bank of America, says the plug is about to be pulled, noting first-quarter highs are likely before Valentine’s Day (which less romantically is also when the Labor Department releases the next consumer price index report), as he recommended investors fade the S&P 500

above 4,200.

Speaking of meme-stocks, Nordstrom

shares shot up over 30% after The Wall Street Journal reported that activist investor, and GameStop chairman, Ryan Cohen has built up a big stake and is looking to shake up its board.

The market


U.S. stock futures


were slumping after three of the big tech giants reported. The yield on the 10-year Treasury

was 3.39%.

For more market updates plus actionable trade ideas for stocks, options and crypto, subscribe to MarketDiem by Investor’s Business Daily.

The buzz


shares fell 3% in premarket trade as it didn’t meet earnings or revenue forecasts, with the company weighed down by iPhone production issues as well as a strong dollar.


dropped 4% as it also missed earnings and revenue guidance as a Google executive highlighted a pullback in spending by advertisers.


fell 6% as it did beat revenue expectations, but its chief financial officer said he expected slower growth rates in the new few quarters for AWS, its cloud division.

Outside of big tech, Starbucks

and Ford Motor Co.

also dropped after their latest results. “Ford seems to find a way to dump a bucket of cold water on the auto stocks once the group begins to gain momentum,” lamented Michael Ward, an analyst at Benchmark

Nonfarm payrolls data is due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, with expectations of a further slowdown in hiring to 187,000, according to economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. The unemployment rate is forecast to tick up a tenth to 3.6%, while average hourly earnings are seen rising 0.3%.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, says the payrolls numbers today could be all over the place, owing to enormous seasonal adjustment factors, weather wildcards and the mixed messages from hiring and firing. He also said that there’s upside risk to the average hourly earnings, as over the past year the monthly numbers tend to move in rising four-month cycles.

Besides the payrolls numbers, the ISM services report also is due.

Best of the web

The bosses are back in charge, declares The Wall Street Journal.

China urges calm over reports that a Chinese spy balloon is flying over Montana.

Death and deceit in Malibu: How yogi couple befriended and stole millions from vulnerable rich doctor

Top tickers

Here were the most active tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m. Eastern.


Security name


Bed Bath & Beyond



AMC Entertainment


AMC Entertainment preferreds

Meta Platforms

Mullen Automotive


The chart

According to UBS, traffic to ChatGPT is scaling to 100 million monthly active users faster than TikTok. “In twenty years following the Internet space, we cannot recall a faster ramp in a consumer internet app. It took TikTok ~9 months after its global launch to add 100M incremental users and it took Instagram ~2.5 years,” said analysts led by Lloyd Walmsley.

Random reads

Another long-time fugitive Mafioso — who was working as a pizza maker — was arrested, this time in France.

Congrats to Bobi the farm dog, who officially is the oldest pooch of all time.

Old-school watch dealers are the new TikTok influencers.

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

Listen to the Best New Ideas in Money podcast with MarketWatch reporter Charles Passy and economist Stephanie Kelton.