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Stocks Turn Mixed as Tech Slips; GE Gains

Stocks turned mixed as losses in technology stocks dragged down the Nasdaq, although the broader market remained higher folllowing two days of losses after a handful of companies reported better-than-expected earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 30 points a day after the market turned in alackluster performance.
Most Dow components advanced, led by GE , Verizon and Walt Disney. Bank of America and Wal-Mart declined.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also rose. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 17.

Among key S&P 500 sectors, industrials, financials and telecom gained, while technology slid.

The dollar sank against a basket of currenciesas the euro gained, hitting a two-month high. Gold, meanwhile, stabilized above $1,345 an ounce, although it was headed for a third consecutive weekly loss and the worst monthly performance since July.

While it wouldn't be a surprise to see a market correction at this point, Linda Duessel, equity market strategist at Federated Investors, remains bullish on the market's long-term prospects.

Duessel pointed to strength in the jobs number this week, as the four-week moving average fell to about 412,000. "Once the four-week average goes below 400,000, the market should love that," she said. "The trend is clear, the employment stats are improving."

She also pointed to rising auto sales, and said they should continue to surge as the economy improves and people trade out of older vehicles.

"Vehicle sales recently were good and without the help of a government program," Duessel said. "This is bullish."

Bank of America shares declined after the financial giant said it was hit by writedowns on home loans, while trading revenue was also lower than expected. CEO Brian Moynihan told CNBC, however, that the bank's core businesses are gaining strength.

But regional banks SunTrust and BB&Tboth beat expectations, although their shares were unchanged.

GE shares jumped, however, after the diversified manufacturer reported a profit of 36 cents a share on revenue of $41.1 billion, both topping analysts' consensus forecasts. CNBC is part of NBC Universal, which is being sold to Comcast.

General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt will be in the spotlight separately on Friday when President Obama names him as head of new advisory panel charged with promoting economic growth by investments in business on Friday.

Schlumberger shares rose after the world's largest oilfield services company posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, boosted by strong demand in North America and the acquisition of a smaller rival.

Google rose in pre-market trading after reporting profit that easily beat Wall Streetexpectations after the market closed Thursday. The search engine giant also stunned investors by announcing that Eric Schmidt will resign as CEO and that co-founder Larry Page, 37, will step into the position starting April 4.

Credit Suisse raised its price target for Google on Friday to $750 a share from $700, citing the results, and saying it doesn't expect the management changes to materially change the company's strategy.

Hewlett-Packard also rose after news four board members were leaving and would be replaced by five new members, including former eBay CEO Meg Whitman.

With no macroeconomic data scheduled for Friday, investors could look to European indicators for direction.

Germany’s IFO business sentiment indicator could lift sentiment after the index rose to its strongest level in twenty years in January, boosted by a manufacturing sector that has now fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis.

European shares closed higher as mining companies got support from rebounding metals prices, and Spanish banks rose. The FTSEurofirst 300 Index gained 0.8 percent.

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