Stocks Close Mixed; Apple Gives Tech Shares a Big Boost

Stocks closed mixed after another see-saw day as technology shares got a huge boost from Apple Computer.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down slightly, while the Nasdaq was upand S&P 500 was mostly flat.

Shares of Apple Computer soared after its CEO Steve Jobs introduced the long-awaited iPhone mobile phone. Jobs, who spoke at MacWorld Conference in San Francisco, also unveiled a new widescreen iPod, and Apple TV, which allows users to stream video from their computers to their televisions.

"After the Macworld conference announcement, the technology stocks got much stronger pushing up the Nasdaq and helping the S&P get stronger," Art Cashin, Director of Floor Operations for UBS, told

Oil dropped more than $2 a barrel at one point, but bounced off of earlier lows. New York light crude futures fell below a $55 key support level . Traders have said selling could increase if that level is reached.

Fimat's John Kilduff said the drop below $55 does not yet signal a technical breakdown. "It's looking more like a test rather than a full blown break through," he said.

The decline in oil sent shares of many energy stocks lower. The S&P energy sector was the second biggest decliner. Shares of Dow component Exxon Mobil were lower.

BPand other oil majors were trading lower. Consumer stocks were the beneficiary of the oil drop and second best performing S&P sector.

Shares of Venezuela's largest telecommunications company are plunging for the second day in a row. Trading of CANTV was halted Monday after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced he plans to nationalize the telecom company.

Shares of Sprint Nextel fell sharply after its 2007 revenue forecasts came in below expectations. That dragged down the S&P telecom sector.

Europe Closes Higher, But Loses Steam

European markets closed up, but fell off of intraday highs due to weakness in energy stocks.

The FTSE CNBC Global 300 was trading lower.

The FTSE 100 closed flat, checked by disappointing performance in two major stocks. One of those was BP, which was hit by lower oil prices and reported disappointing fourth-quarter production numbers.

And retail bellwether Marks & Spencer fell. The company said sales at stores open at least a year rose 5.6% in its third quarter. The rise was about in line with expectations, but investors were clearly hoping for better-than-expected results.

The CAC-40 finished higher with Airbus parent EADS gaining. On Monday, AirAsia agreed to order 50 Airbus A320 jets, with the option of buying 50 more. The deal is worth about $4.6 billion at list prices, but aircraft makers often discount the catalog prices.

Germany's DAX closed up modestly.

Sony Upgrade Pushes Nikkei Higher

Asian stocks were mostly higher with Japan, Australia and South Korea all closing stronger.

The Nikkei 225 Average closed higher as shares of Sony surged after Goldman Sachs upgraded it while JFE Holdings and other steel stocks rebounded from recent sharp falls. Expectations that the Bank of Japan may raise interest rates at a policy meeting next week helped shares of banks and consumer finance firms post gains.

Australian shares finished sharply higher, snapping a four-day slide, as energy infrastructure group Alinta jumped over 12% on a management buy-out offer, while big miners such as
BHP Billiton rallied after their recent rout. South Korea's Kospi Index also closed higher.

Singapore ended slightly higher but Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index finished down, bucking the trend as investors sold mainland bank stocks after China raised the amount of funds that lenders must hold in reserve for the fourth time since mid-June.