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The backs and different cameras of the iPhone 8, left, and 8 Plus after Apple's product event at the new Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12.JIM WILSON/The New York Times

Growth stocks are smashing the return from value shares as the likes of Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. go from strength to strength. The gap though is still just a blip compared with the peak of the technology bubble.

The spread between the Russell growth index and its value gauge is at its widest in 17 years after a 17 percentage point beat this year. While investors may be disappointed at the lack of opportunities in the value group, the extent of under performance is small compared to levels reached at the March 2000 market top, Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, observed in a recent report.

The challenges faced by value investors has led prominent names like hedge fund manager David Einhorn, a vocal proponent of the investment style, to question its very viability. The next test for high-flying growth names comes from earnings at Facebook and Apple this week.

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft Corp., Inc. and the two share classes of Google parent Alphabet Inc. account for about a quarter of the weighting of the Russell 1000 Growth Index. The gauge has risen 24 per cent this year to a record. The value index has climbed 6.6 per cent, led by Berkshire Hathaway Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp.