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2HRS2GO: Wall Street keeps a (relatively) good outlook

COMMENTARY -- Market looks encouraging right now.

I'm no Norman Vincent Peale, but I like what I'm seeing today. Wall Street seems to be in a forgiving mood.

This morning, the Nasdaq Composite Index dipped, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell, the S&P 500 slid, and Inter@ctive Week's @100 Index retreated in the wake of the latest financial warning from Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL). The reaction would have been much worse had Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL) issued its warning a week or two ago.

That Apple will suffer a rough December quarter shouldn't surprise anyone. Apple-specific problems in recent months have been analyzed, dissected, hashed and rehashed. Even before yesterday, investor confidence in AAPL sat somewhere between the toilet and the gutter.

But the concerns raised by Apple executives yesterday involved more than the company. CEO Steve Jobs joined the chorus of complaints about consumer PC demand and the economy in general.

"Our feeling -- and it's just a feeling right now -- is that we're seeing a broad economic slowdown, and it's affecting many industries, including us," Jobs said.

As recently as last week, similar sentiments sent stockholders scrambling throughout the technology sector. See Gateway (NYSE: GTW) for details.

And this week? A mild reaction, all things considered.

As of 1:35 p.m. Eastern time, the Nasdaq Composite was down less than 28 points, or not even 1 percent. That's far better than the 2.7 percent drop it suffered back in September, following the first Apple alert of the Second Jobs Era.

Yesterday the market went wild in driving up tech stocks. The Nasdaq posted its best single-day point gain in history.

Profit-taking was bound to happen today. With Apple adding to consumer PC worries, many folks thought things could get nasty today.

Instead, Nasdaq decliners hardly outnumber advancers. Had Apple not shown up on the scene, the Nasdaq would likely be at least a bit higher today.

Apple itself didn't lose as much as might have been expected. AAPL has shed nearly 16 percent of its value since today's session began, but given the projected size of its fourth quarter miss -- 40 percent! -- the stock hit seems gentle.

All told, the market still appears to be in a positive mode, despite the declines today. At the very least, things don't look to get much worse. That's cheerful holiday news.

Other issues:

  • Storage networking vendor EMC (NYSE: EMC) gives Wall Street further reason to smile, and further evidence that the much of the IT industry remains healthy, despite consumer PC woes and possibly slower growth for network equipment.

    Apple and Gateway moan about the economy, but they can't blame Alan Greenspan for the fact that individuals like you and me don't need 1.5 GHz PCs, Windows Me or a cube-shaped computer casing.

    On the other hand, despite various economic indicators, corporations and large agencies remain hungry for useful technology. They didn't have enough last year, they don't have enough this year, and they won't have enough next year. And that's the real story. 22GO>