U.S. News

Stocks Finish Mixed After Tough Week for Techs


The Nasdaq snapped a three-day losing streak as bottom-feeding investors stepped into the market Friday, but the Dow closed lower, hampered by earnings news. 

The blue chip Dow index closed down slightly, hobbled by a lukewarm reaction to earnings news from IBM and General Electric .

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P closed flat while the Nasdaq finished with a loss of 2.1%.

"We think we're getting close to a top," said Bill Strazzullo, chief market strategist for Bell Curve Trading.

Strazzullo said his firm is looking for peaks in the stock market of around 13,000 for the Dow and 1450 to 1490 for the S&P 500 over the next few months.

"The problem is the market is counting on this booster shot of lower interest rates and some of that has been taken out," he said. "The perception is that we're going to get help from the Fed, but this isn't going to happen. My guess is that they stay pat until the fall."

Breadth was solidly positive on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, with advancers outpacing decliners by well over a two-to-one margin. Selling in technology companies abated somewhat on Friday as bargain hunters sifted through various industries, particularly semiconductors.

Shares of Intel ended higher on Friday but still posted a weekly loss of about 6% following the company's disappointing fourth-quarter earnings report Wednesday.

The energy sector was the day's best performer with oilfield services companies drawing interest as crude prices rebounded from recent declines to $52 per barrel. Shares in basic materials stocks and metal and mining companies also attracted buyers.

On the losing side, industrial companies eclipsed technology as the worst-performing sector.

Alcoa posted the largest gain in the Dow after the aluminum giant said Friday it would raise its dividend by 13% and buy back up to 10% of its stock. Shares of Newmont Mining also moved higher as gold prices rose to $636 per ounce.

Schlumberger was among the day's big gainers as it reported a 71% jump in quarterly profits, buoyed by strong demand for its oilfield services.

IBM was the Dow's big loser Friday despite beating quarterly earnings expectations, reported after the bell Thursday. Some investors had been hoping for even better numbers, given that the stock is up 21% in the past 12 months.

"IBM’s earnings report and outlook were, we thought, impressive," wrote A.G. Edwards analyst David M. Wong, in a client note released Friday. The computer hardware analyst maintained a "hold" rating on IBM, however, saying the stock was "fairly valued" at current levels.

Shares of General Electric were lower after the company, the parent of CNBC, posted quarterly profit in line with expectations. GE narrowed the range of its forecast for the current year.

Motorola, the world's second-largest maker of mobile handsets, said fourth-quarter profit fell 48% despite record sales. Shares of Motorola rose, however, after CEO Ed Zander announced 3,500 job cuts that are expected to save the company $400 million over two years.

Citigroup , the nation's largest bank, said Friday its fourth-quarter profit fell from a year earlier when earnings were boosted by the sale of one of its businesses. The latest results exceeded analysts' forecasts, however, thanks to strength in corporate and investment banking.

Fiber optics networking firm JDS Uniphase jumped after raising second-quarter guidance, while Xilinx rose following the chip outfit's third-quarter earnings report.