Mixed Markets Leave Apple Lower

A cheer went up on the floor of the NYSE about 30 seconds before the closing bell. The cause for celebration was a last minute rally that brought the Dow back up 10,000. The Dow crested the magic 10k mark yesterday for the first time since March 5th. Today, the index dipped back below that level during afternoon trading. With a short week (the markets are closed for Good Friday), traders and analysts are hoping that the Dow can hold onto the 10k level, allowing investors to regroup for a more sustained rally after the Easter break.

The Nasdaq, on the other hand, started a rally during morning trading, and managed to trade in a narrow range for the rest of the day, closing with a gain. Fueling that rally, at least in part, was the news that the US service people being held in China were to be let go. That tangible representation of a lessening in tensions was received warmly by investors. Solomon Smith Barney analyst Jonathan Joseph raised his rating on the semiconductor sector to a Buy from a Hold citing reductions in excess capacity and other market factors. That helped push the entire sector up, led by Intel which rose more than 11%. Overall, todayis gain for the Nasdaq marks the third straight such gain. Volume for both the Dow and the Nasdaq was moderately strong, but without a clear catalyst, there is still no consensus on where we are headed. So, are happy days here again?

Bah! Humbug! This rally will never hold! Or so say some analysts. According to a CBS Marketwatch report:

"We were in a very oversold situation on the Nasdaq. The negativity was so great that you could cut it with a knife. Itis not unusual to have violent rallies in bear markets -- just like itis not unusual to see violent sell-offs in bull markets," observed Ned Collins, head of trading at Daiwa Securities.

This might be just a bump in the Bear road too, at least if the Blue Chips are any indication. It was Blue Chips that took the brunt of the losses on the Dow. On the surprising side for todayis trading, Motorola took only a moderate hit today, closing lower by a dime. The company turned in worse than expected results yesterday, but the markets didnit seem inclined to hammer on the stock any more than it already had in the last few weeks.

Yahoo! reported results after the bell today. The company reported a loss and announced it would be laying off some 400 people of its 3500 person work force. According to a Reuters report:

Yahoo, which last month warned that its first quarter results would fall short of expectations, reported a net loss of $11.5 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with a profit of $67.6 million, or 11 cents a share, in the first quarter of last year.

"While we streamline our business over the second quarter to become more efficient and align our costs with the current market environment, we remain steadily focused on developing and delivering the essential services that will result in Yahoo becoming the Internetis leading global consumer and business services company," Yahoo Chief Executive Tim Koogle said in the statement.

Excluding special items, Yahoo said it earned $7.6 million, or one cent per share, on a pro forma basis, compared with a profit of $60.5 million, or 10 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Yahoo! actually traded higher after the closing bell.

The stocks we track in the Stock Watch closed mixed. Intel gained 11%, with Microsoft, Dell, and HP posting smaller gains. Adobe, Akamai, Motorola, IBM, and Gateway all closed lower.

So how did Apple fare in all this? AAPL closed lower by 24 cents, as the stock traded in very low volumes. The stock opened up more than a point higher, but quickly lost ground with no real news pushing the downward movement. There was a brief AAPL rally at around 2:00, but the stock couldnit hang on, slipping back into negative territory.

Apple closed at 21.8, a loss of 0.24 (-1.09%), on light volume of 5,966,000 shares trading hands.

The Nasdaq closed at 1898.95, up 46.92 (+2.53%), on volume of 2,374,538,000 shares trading hands.

The Dow closed at 10013.47, a loss of 89.27 (-0.88%), on volume of 1,280,643,000 shares trading hands.

The S&P 500 closed at 1165.89, down 2.49 (-0.21%).

Akamai closed at 8.35, a loss of 0.32 (-3.69%), on light volume of 1,968,900 shares trading hands. Apple is a large shareholder of Akamai.

Adobe closed at 40.73, down 0.63 (-1.52%), on strong volume of 7,178,200 shares trading hands.

IBM closed at 97.43, a loss of 1.62 (-1.64%), on volume of 11,498,900 shares trading hands.

Motorola closed at 12.90, a loss of a dime (-0.77%), on heavy volume of 31,864,100 shares trading hands.

Earthlink closed at 11.28, down 1.07 (-8.66%), on volume of 2,861,000 shares trading hands.

Gateway closed at 15.00, a loss of 0.48 (-3.10%), on volume of 3,314,600 shares trading hands.

Dell closed at 26.74, up 0.48 (+1.83%), on light volume of 35,282,200 shares trading hands.

Intel closed at 27.52, a strong gain of 2.75 (+11.10%), on heavy volume of 91,337,600 shares trading hands.

Microsoft closed at 60.04, a gain of 0.36 (+0.60%), on strong volume of 54,938,600 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. You can also check out our Apple Financial Boards, a new moderated forum for Apple Investors and people who are interested in Appleis financial dealings.