Volatile Santa Claus Rally Rescues the Nasdaq

After a long losing streak tech stocks bounced off recent lows partly because of new economic data indicates the economy is hardly in free fall and partly because investors couldnit resist the temptation to bargain hunt. Appleis stock gained back 6.67%.

Retail sales this holiday shopping season are growing between 2.3% and 6% depending who you ask, but the majority of observers expect it to be closer to the low estimate. Thatis well below last yearis growth of 7.3%, down with the 2.6% growth reported back in the 1990 recession.

Appleis stock climbed 15/16 to 15 dollars on volume of 5.3 million shares.

PC retail sales didnit improve after a bleak November as Christmas approached. "Online sales of PCs and notebooks for the week ended Dec. 16 were down 14.1 percent compared with the average weekly sales during 2000," reported C/NET News. "Thatis the lowest figure since the weakest sales period so far this year: Thanksgiving."

A Mac-only retailer analyzed Appleis problems for MacWeek.comis Armchair Quarterback series and concludes that, "Apple must do three things: use faster processors, introduce new product lines and develop products more quickly."

Meanwhile, Appleis director of worldwide developer relations, Guillermo Ortiz, has predicted the final version of Mac OS X could ship by the end of February. See the Mac Observer article.

The Nasdaq rallied 176 points (7.56%) to closed at 2516 on high volume of 2.44 billion shares, losing 5.7% for the week.

What a year for the history books! Never has the Nasdaq soared so high and dipped so low in the course of a single year. The Nasdaq is now 50% off its all time high of 5012 set March 10th, 2000.

The Dow gained 148 points (1.41%) to close at 10635 on volume of 2.2 billion shares.

The S&P 500 climbed 31.09 points (2.44%) to close at 1305.95.

In Apple related businesses: Akamai gained 2 3/8 to 23 9/16. Adobe climbed 5 7/8 to 65 11/16.

Yesterdayis rumors that IBM was going to miss earnings were completely unfounded according to Salomon Smith Barney, which reiterated its buy rating. Big Blue bounced off recent lows by 7 3/8 to 88 15/16.

3Com (COMS) announced a 2nd quarter loss of $0.15 per share or $52.4 million with revenues of $789.5 million, but that was good enough to beat the low expectations set when 3Com warned in early December. The network equipment manufacturer also spun off its carrier equipment business. 3Com gained 23/32 to 8 1/32.

Dell rallied 1 1/8 to 18 5/16. Gateway gained 0.94 to 18.03. Compaq climbed 1.27 to 15.97.

Hewlett Packard told its managers to delay salary increases and cut loose contract workers where they can. HP gained 2 11/16 to 32 1/16.

In economic news: Personal income grew 0.4% in November while spending dropped to its slowest pace in more than 2 years as the so-called wealth effect disappeared and energy costs chilled consumer confidence.

Meanwhile, orders for durable goods (items which last 3 or more years) climbed 2.3% in November, stronger than expected by economists. When the airplane orders are taken out, durable goods order rose 0.4%, which is still a respectable pace.

For full quotes on all the companies mentioned in this article, we have assembled this set of quotes at Yahoo! for your reference. For other stories regarding Appleis stock activity, visit our updated Apple Stock Watch Special Report.

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