Nasdaq treads water as Dow finishes strong week

A disappointing earnings report from Dell keeps a lid on tech stocks, while the Dow closes above 11,000 for the first time since April 25.

3 min read
A disappointing earnings report from Dell Computer kept a lid on tech stocks today, while the Dow ended a bullish week with another strong gain.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 29.48 to 3,789.47 by market close, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 11.59 to 1,471.84. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 119.04 to close at 11,027.80, led by Philip Morris, which gained $2.63 to $31.13.

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 were practically unchanged for the week, while the Dow climbed 2 percent and closed above 11,000 for the first time since April 25.

At the end of regular trading, Intel closed up $1.81 at $63.81. Microsoft fell 19 cents to $72.44.

For many tech investors, Dell's earnings outweighed positive economic news from the federal government.

The government reported today that inflation pressure at the wholesale level was tame last month. The producer price index was unchanged in July; it rose just 0.1 percent if the more volatile food and energy categories are excluded.

In contrast, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales for July rose 0.7 percent, beating Wall Street expectations of a 0.4 percent rise.

Analysts interpreted the more benign producer-price data as a sign that the Federal Reserve is not likely to raise interest rates later this month.

"The Fed is most interested in the inflation data, which don't get revised, and puts somewhat less emphasis on data like preliminary retail sales data that are subject to sometimes large revisions," PaineWebber chief economist Maury Harris wrote in a report.

Gary Thayer, chief economist at A.G. Edwards also sees the Fed moving away from a rate increase.

"The predominance of evidence over the last month points toward a slowing economy," Thayer said.

"The Fed would risk going too far to raise rates when the economy is just beginning to slow down. A rate increase takes six to nine months to filter through the economy, therefore even today's numbers don't reflect the impact of the three increases we've had this year."

The CNET tech index edged up 7.54 to close at 3,080.60 today. Losers edged out winners, with 55 of the 97 stocks in the index falling, 38 falling and four remaining unchanged.

Of the 18 sectors tracked by CNET Investor, PC hardware makers posted the sharpest drops, falling 2 percent. Semiconductor manufacturers were the day's largest gainers, climbing 2 percent.

Tepid earnings news yesterday from Dell helped push down the shares PC hardware makers. Including gains from investments, the direct-sales PC giant said it earned 22 cents per share for the quarter, compared with analysts' expectations of 21 cents, according to a survey by First Call/Thomson Financial.

However, Dell's revenue of $7.67 billion for the quarter was less than the $7.8 billion analysts had expected.

Dell shares fell $4.06, or about 10 percent, to $37.69, on a volume of 75.9 million shares, making them most actively traded shares on the Nasdaq.

The initial offering of Equinix, an Internet infrastructure company, failed to ignite investor enthusiasm. The shares jumped $1.13 to $13.13.

Among members of the CNET tech index, Amazon.com and Maxim Integrated Products posted strong gains.

Amazon rose $3.25, or nearly 11 percent, to $33.69. Maxim climbed $6 to $73.19 after the maker of integrated circuits reported income of 26 cents a share for its fiscal fourth quarter, topping the 25-cent average estimate of analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial.

CommScope, which makes coaxial and fiber-optic cable, hit a 52-week low today. The shares fell $2.56, or 9 percent, to $25.44 on a volume of 2.3 million shares, more than four times the stock's average daily volume. The shares traded as low as $24.31, compared with a high of $50.12 during the past 52 weeks.

ITC Delatcom also hit a new 52-week low today, despite some favorable analyst attention.

The provider of broadband communications services fell $1.69, or nearly 11 percent, to $14, compared with a high of $43.50 during the past 52 weeks.

The Philadelphia semiconductor index rose 11.04 to 953.69, led by chipmaker Linear Technology, which gained $4.13 to close at $61.69.