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Friday Look Ahead: Tech a Focus for Stocks Friday, as Gold Dazzles Investors

Thursday, 16 Sep 2010 | 9:10 PM ET

Some good news from the tech sector could be a positive for stocks Friday.

Outside the New York Stock Exchange in lower Manhattan.
Photo: Oliver Quillia for CNBC.com
Outside the New York Stock Exchange in lower Manhattan.

Both OracleandResearch in Motionreported strong earnings after Thursday's bell. Separately, Texas Instruments boosted its $0.12 dividend by a penny and said it would buy back another $7.5 billion shares. All three stocks were higher in after-hours trading.

Stocks Friday morning could feel the effect of the quadruple expiration of futures and options. Traders expect the expiration to be low key at the open, and if anything, the impact should be slightly positive.

CPI, at 8:30 a.m., is expected to show a 0.3 percent increase in August consumer prices. Consumer sentiment is expected to improve slightly to a reading of 70, from 68.9 last month, but economists say the strong performance of the stock market this month could push that number a bit higher. August's sentiment reading was the second lowest of the year. Consumer sentiment is released at 9:55 a.m.

Stocks drifted on both sides of the unchanged mark Thursday. The Dow ended up 22 at 10,594, and the S&P 500 was off less than a half point at 1124. The dollar weakened against the euro, and dollar/yen was barely changed after the Bank of Japan intervened to curb the yen's rise Wednesday.

"This intervention might have higher chances of succeeding, assuming we continue to see relatively acceptable U.S. economic data. That's the critical thing," said Boris Schlossberg of GFT Forex. "...as long as the idea of double dip keeps receding, Treasury yieldsshould stabilize and go back up and that will be critical to dollar/yen."

On the other hand, if we see the 10-year yield move to 2.5 percent, or dip below 2.5 percent, I don't think any amount of money will stem the (dollar) decline," he said.

Barry Knapp, chief equities portfolio strategist at Barclay's, said the initial stock market reaction after a big intervention is often a short-term decline. "For the first couple of days, the market goes down a little bit..the first reaction is to look at the dollar," he said.

The view is "if the dollar is going up, that's bad for earnings, so sell it. Dollar's going down, that's good. That's a very simplistic approach. I don't think it's right at all," he said. "If you look back at 2003, when the Japanese were intervening dramatically, the initial reaction was that the stock market sold off, and then it regained its footing."

Knapp said the intervention at that time was about $360 billion, and he estimated this round could total $250 billion. The BOJ was reported to have bought more than $20 billion Wednesday.

"If somebody puts $250 billion into the markets, event though that money won't be buying riskier assets, it can trigger an effect," he said.

The impact on Treasurys could also be noticeable, he said. Traders have been speculating the Japanese will park their dollar holdings in shorter duration Treasurys. "Initially the Treasury curve steepens, but then that tends to drive investors who were in 2s and 5s to extend out the curve and it starts to flatten. Then it triggers a whole position rebalancing."

All that Glitters

Gold continued to dazzle investors Thursday, scoring its second record settlement of the week. Investors are betting it could try to break the $1,300 level, maybe even as early as next week depending on the outcome of the Fed's meeting Tuesday. Gold Thursday rose about a half percent to settle at $1273.80.

Gold has faced some high-profile criticism this week, including from investor George Soros who called it a bubble. "If you think about a world where every major country is trying to find a way to devalue its currency, gold looks pretty good in that environment. Personally I think the dollar is going down more. There's lots of reasons why gold will continue to rise. I don't know if I'd buy it, but I know I wouldn't short it," Knapp said.

- Follow me on Twitter @pattidomm.

Questions? Comments? Email us at marketinsider@cnbc.com

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  • Patti Domm

    Patti Domm is CNBC Executive Editor, News, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy.

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