THE WEEK AHEAD: Scattered earnings, turkey ahead

2 min read

Technology stocks carried Wall Street this week even though the Fed raised interest rates one-quarter of a percent. Now that the Fed Watch is over, traders will pay more attention to earnings than vague macroeconomic reports.

For the week the Dow Jones industrial average moved up 235 points to 11,003.89 while the Nasdaq stormed up 148 points to a record close of 3,369.13.

All this optimism comes after the Fed raised interest rates for third time this year, up one-quarter of a percent to 5.50 percent.

But this hike was expected and the Fed's decision to change from a "tightening" bias to "neutral" gave investors good reason to put the interest-rate watch behind them.

"Now we have symmetry -- we had three tightenings, we had three easings," said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. "It's behind us, we can move on and start to focus on earnings-growth potential and I think that's a positive for the marketplace."

It didn't hurt that two technology bellwethers, Applied Materials Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP), both topped analysts' estimates in their latest quarter.

In H-P's case, it was a matter of overcoming some sluggishness in its UNIX workstation sales. Although the lower-end, lower-margin machines were basically flat, the profitable high-end workstations carried the day.

In the quarter, H-P raked in $760 million, or 75 cents a share, on sales of $11.4 billion.

Not surprisingly, H-P shares took off along with the rest of the technology sector.

With the interest-rate situation behind it, the market chose to jump back into those wild Internet stocks. Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and a handful of Internet IPOs all made sharp gains.

Looking ahead to a week that will be shortened due to the Thanksgiving holiday, investors will get a couple more earnings reports to chew over.

Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL) hopes to build on its impressive recovery when it announces its fourth-quarter results Tuesday.

First Call consensus expects it to earn 17 cents a share in the quarter, up from 13 cents a share in the third quarter.

Also, financial software developer Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU) will report its first-quarter results.

First Call analysts expect a loss of 19 cents a share in the quarter, up from the 9 cents a share it lost in the fourth quarter.

Of course, Intuit makes most of its money in the second quarter ahead of the tax season.

Intuit shares rolled to a 52-week high Friday after trading at a low of 17 3/16 last November.