Apple Gives Back Some Morning Gains, But Closes 4.2% Higher

The markets started the day off strong, but ended the day on the down side. Yesterdayis interest rate cut was not enough to keep the momentum going as the weight of continued earnings warnings and other negative signs dragged many stocks back into the red. Some profit taking on yesterdayis gains also played a factor. Apple closed higher by more than 4%, but couldnit hold on all of the gains from early morning trading.

The biggest news today in the tech world was President-Elect George W. Bush spending the day with tech leaders in Austin, Tx. "discusiing things."

Apple received a boost today from Needham & Co. where Charles R. Wolf initiated coverage with a "Buy" rating. He set a 12-month target of US$25 for the stock. The stock closed at 17 1/16, a strong gain of 11/16 (+4.20%). Volume was heavier than normal with 13,194,800 shares trading hands, though more than 10 million shares had traded by 12:30 EST. Rumors of new products about to be announced helped play a role in todayis gains, and CBS Marketwatch cited excitement among the Mac faithful concerning next weekis MACWORLD San Francisco Expo show as a factor:

Apple Computer shares added 69 cents to $17.06, as Apple enthusiasts look toward the IDG-sponsored Macworld Expo in San Francisco. As with past expos, Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is expected to make product-related announcements during his keynote speech on Tuesday.

The Nasdaq finished the day lower despite early morning gains. Concerns in the chip sector helped drag the tech sector down, though many hardware companies finished the day higher. The Nasdaq closed at 2566.83, a loss of 49.86 (-1.91%).

The Dow too bled a bit as more "safe" stocks continued to be punished for not being technology stocks. Pharmaceuticals and utilities bore the brunt of that movement. The Dow closed at 10912.41, down 33.34 (-0.30%), not enough to erase yesterdayis gains.

The S&P 500 also took a hit closing at 1333.34, lower by 14.22 (-1.06%).

Akamai announced the date of its 1st quarter results and tried to put a brave face on future business in an era of lower corporate spending. The stock closed at 20 7/8, a loss of 3 3/8 (-13.92%). Volume was twice normal with 6,059,000 shares trading hands.

Adobe gave back some of yesterdayis gains which had in turn not quite made up for losses from the day before. The stock closed at 53 3/4, off by 4 3/16 (-7.23%) on higher than average volume of 4,804,600 shares trading hands.

IBM suffered the fate of other chip makers, though not as badly as some due to their very diversified nature. The stock closed lower at 93 3/16, down 1 7/16 (-1.52%) on volume of 15,328,900.

Motorola announced three executive promotions and billed the event as a shift in corporate structure. Despite this, the stock closed joined IBM on the down side closing at 23 1/16, a loss of 1 1/16 (-4.40%) on volume of 23,423,300 shares trading hands.

Earthlink held onto yesterdayis gains and added another 8%, closing at 7 even, a gain of 9/16 (+8.74%) on volume of 2,631,500 shares trading hands.

Gateway also saw coverage initiated by Needham & Co. with a rating of "Strong Buy." Gatewayis stock, like Appleis, has suffered from a major earnings warning in December. The stock closed at 21.75, a gain of 2.85 (+15.08%) on top of yesterdayis 15% gain. 6,041,000 shares traded hands.

Dell bucked the upward trend in hardware manufacturers by closing lower. Like Apple and Gateway, the company saw coverage initiated by Needham & Co. though the Austin, Tx. based company was rated a "Hold," which is a somewhat negative rating. The stock closed at 19 3/16ma loss of 13/16 (-4.06%) on volume of 55,113,000 shares trading hands.

Hewlett Packard closed at 34 5/8, a gain of 9/16 (+1.65%) on volume of 9,794,800 shares trading hands.

Intel dropped with the rest of the chip companies, despite announcing a new version of their low-end Celeron processor at 800 MHz. The stock closed at 33 51/64, down 7/16 (-1.28%) on volume of 68,678,600 shares trading hands.

Microsoft held onto yesterdayis gains and added another half point. The stock closed at 48 7/16, up 1/2 (+1.04%) with 56,094,100 shares trading hands.

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.