Work-from-home mandates due to the coronavirus pandemic have led to a greater reliance on technology companies, many of the biggest of which are listed on Nasdaq, sending the exchange operator's flagship Nasdaq 100 index up around 19% so far this year. That compares to a rise of about 0.8% for the S&P 500.
"Our market, as well as the indices that we build around our market trends, are playing into the next generation of our economy," Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer Adena Friedman said on a call with analysts.
Assets under management linked to Nasdaq indexes surged 34% from a year earlier to $272 billion, as people sought broad exposure to sectors like technology and pharmaceuticals, boosting the New York-based company's licensing fee revenues.
That helped Nasdaq beat analysts' expectations for second-quarter earnings per share, not including onetime items like acquisition costs, by 9 cents, at $1.54 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Nasdaq also benefited from robust trading volumes, spurred in part by a shift by retail brokerages to no-fee trading, which along with pandemic lockdowns has given rise to a new generation of day traders.
Robinhood, the retail brokerage credited with ushering in the commission-free trend, became a Nasdaq client during the quarter, using the company's trade surveillance technology to monitor its markets.
On the listings front, Nasdaq saw a spate of market debuts, including Royalty Pharma PLC, Warner Music Group and ZoomInfo Technologies.
Nasdaq's net income for the quarter rose to $241 million, or $1.45 per share, from $174 million, or $1.04 per share, a year earlier.
Revenue rose 12% to $699 million.
By John McCrank and C Nivedita