Really Bad Economic Data Rallies Stocks, Apple Up 3%

Today was all about Jobs. Not Steve Jobs, but employment figures. The April employment report was issued this morning, and it wasnit pretty. The consensus estimate from analysts was that non-farm employment would increase by some 25,000 jobs. Instead, non-farm employment took it in the gut with a decrease of 223,000 jobs. Ouch, and we spell that R-E-C-E-S-S-I-O-N. Well, we donit, but traders did, at least in the morning. About 10:30 AM EST, someone woke up and realized that this really put the pressure on the Fed to decrease interest rates, and faster than you can say 50 basis points, the markets took off for positive territory. Better yet, they remained there for the rest of the day. According to CBS Marketwatch:

"The employment report cleared the landscape for another rate cut in mid-May. The market reconsidered its initial reaction. It has discounted the fact that the economy is bad and [is] looking to the second half of the year," remarked Steve Massocca, head of trading and president of Pacific Growth Equities.

He said anecdotal evidence points to stabilization -- and possibly an economic recovery -- in the second half of the year. "But the market will have issues to deal with if we head into the summer and the data points to renewed weakness," Massocca concluded.

So things are going to get better, and investors are digging it. One interesting side note to the employment data, the Wall Street Journal reported today that several large high tech firms are rescinding job offers made to college graduates earlier in the year. Some are offering bonuses for the students to turn their pretty heads and walk away. In the meanwhile, the Dow, the Nasdaq, and the S&P all closed higher, though the volume was hardly convincing. Still, some analysts were heralding what they said was some buying on the dip, which we havenit seen in many months. Tech stocks participated in the rally, including all of the stocks we track in the Stock Watch. is calling into question the wisdom of the looming price war between Gateway, Dell, and Compaq. The Wall Street Journal adds to that with a piece about Dell vowing to be "ruthless in cutting costs." All the while, Apple is preparing to compete and win market share by making better and cooler computers. One of these things just doesnit belong here...

We took aim at IBM today with a new Reality check cartoon. Another editorial piece takes Microsoft to task for their attempts to brand Open Source Software as a threat to intellectual property. Surprisingly, the markets didnit really seem to move on these momentous pieces, but we felt them relevant enough to mention.

On the other hand, Forbes published a piece called "Winner Of The Week: Apple Computer." Author Arik Hesseldahl lists all the many reasons that make Apple a strong company with a healthy stock. As we mentioned at Mac OS News Around the Web, most of those reading this will not find too much new in the article. There are many million more of other investors who do not know enough about Apple, however, and we think the piece is some excellent exposure for the company. On24 has another good piece for Apple that cites several analysts who all agree that Apple has taken a step in the right direction with their new iBook.

Apple traded in light volume today. The stock roughly followed the same trends as the rest of the tech industry and the Nasdaq in general. It opened lower, and then headed steadily higher to close just off the dayis highs. The dayis range was 23.96 - 25.85.

Apple closed at 25.75, up 0.79 (+3.17%), on light volume of 5,018,700 shares trading hands.

The Nasdaq closed at 2191.53, up 45.33 (+2.11%), on volume of 2,057,363,000 shares trading hands.

The Dow closed at 10951.24, a gain of 154.59 (+1.43%), on volume of 1,075,719,000 shares trading hands.

The S&P 500 closed at 1266.61, a gain of 18.03 (+1.44%).

Adobe closed at 41.36, up 0.73 (+1.80%), on light volume of 4,745,100 shares trading hands.

Akamai closed at 10.56, up 0.42 (+4.14%), on strong volume of 4,086,800 shares trading hands. Apple is a large shareholder of Akamai.

Earthlink closed at 13.67, up 0.49 (+3.72%), on volume of 2,610,600 shares trading hands.

Gateway closed at 18.78, up 0.39 (+2.12%), on light volume of 1,092,900 shares trading hands.

IBM closed at 115.86, up 2.16 (+1.90%), on light volume 8,678,400 shares trading hands.

Macromedia announced a new stock option exchange program in an effort to make its employeesi options more of an incentive considering the companyis stock price. MACR closed at 20.90, up 0.30 (+1.46%), on light volume of 1,222,000 shares trading hands.

Motorola saw coverage initiated by Adams Harkenss at a Market Perform level. MOT closed at 16.45, a gain of 0.59 (+3.72%), on light volume of 9,983,600 shares trading hands.

Dell closed at 25.84, up 0.91 (+3.65%), on light volume of 31,484,100 shares trading hands.

Intel and AMD announced they had renewed their cross-licensing agreements. INTC closed at 30.88, up 0.4798 (+1.58%), on light volume of 35,392,600 shares trading hands.

Microsoft was, get this, hacked today. Stunning, no? The company had three international Web sites hacked with home pages replaced. This marks the 4th day in a row that the company that wants us to place all our personal information on their servers was hacked. MSFT closed at 70.75, a gain of 2.22 (+3.24%), on strong volume of 59,777,700 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.