Positive reports from Dell Computer, IBM, and Nokia, along with a sudden spurt in Cisco Systems' stock price, sparked investors' appetites for technology stocks earlier in the day. But the buying spree soon faded as investors awaited the line-up of quarterly reports scheduled for after the bell.
The Nasdaq composite index grew 30.42 points to 2,046.59, and the Dow Jones industrial average was up 40.17 points to 10,610.00.
In economic news, the U.S. index of leading economic indicators--which measures a variety of information, including jobless claims, money supply and stock prices--showed an increase for the third straight month. The index gained 0.3 percent in June after growing 0.4 percent in May. An increase indicates that economic activity should rise in the near future.
Cisco was the Nasdaq's most actively traded stock Thursday, up 8 percent at one point in the afternoon after reports that an internal memo at Salomon Smith Barney claimed that both Sanmina and Flextronics are receiving more orders from Cisco in anticipation of stronger demand for network equipment. But shares closed the day up just 61 cents, or 4 percent, to $17.76.
Dell, up $1.18 to $28.38, reaffirmed its previous earnings outlook for the second quarter Thursday, ahead of its annual meeting with shareholders. Shares of competitor Compaq Computer rose 12 cents to $15.78.
IBM was off 28 cents to $104 after hitting a high of $106 earlier in the day. The computing giant had reported higher profits late on Wednesday but also said slowing demand could lower its results in the second half of the year.
Finnish mobile device make Nokia was up $2.51 to $19.51 after news that its second-quarter earnings were at the high end of expectations but third-quarter earnings could be lower.
Semiconductor stocks were faring well, with CNET's Semiconductor index up almost 5 percent. Intel was the second-most actively traded stock on the Nasdaq, up $1.07 to $29.96.
In earnings news, EarthLink was up $2.33 to $17.28 following its second-quarter report. The Internet service provider said growth in high-speed services helped it come in on target for the quarter, with slightly better-than-expected sales.
Siebel's second-quarter results made it apparent the company is surviving better than most of its rivals, but that wasn't enough to stop analysts from lowering estimates or investors from selling shares Thursday. Shares were off $2.60 to $33.04.
Microsoft rose $2 to $72.57 ahead of its earnings report after the bell. Sun Microsystems also made modest gains ahead of its quarterly report, up 45 cents to $14.44.
Amazon.com rose 53 cents to $16.49, AOL Time Warner fell $1.87 to $42.78 and Yahoo rose 40 cents to $17.43.
Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.