Stocks Rally as Election End Game Nears, AAPL Makes Gains

A Florida court gave Al Gore yet another defeat today and the stock markets, already in strong rally mode, responded with a stampede of buyers. Appleis stock had its best day in a week. The fact that tech stocks rallied this morning after a revenues warning from Intel and continued downgrades of tech giants, like Microsoft, seemed to indicate that at least a short-term bottom has been established in the stock markets.

Then seconds after the market closed the Florida supreme court, in a 4 to 3 split decision, ordered a manual recount of all the so-called "undercounted" ballots in contention, to begin immediately. The court also reinstated several hundred votes excluded in the earlier Florida vote certification issued by Katherine Harris.

Despite Fridayis rally, the news continues to be negative for PC-related businesses. PC sales showed preliminary declines of 12% to 15% in November from a year earlier, according to PC Data Inc., a market research firm. If true, PC sales are actually declining as the holiday season progresses — an unusual negative trend not seen in recent memory.

International Data Corp, according to the Wall Street Journal, "also lowered its forecast for fourth-quarter PC sales world-wide and warned that economic worries would restrain home PC sales, "for two to three quarters" more. It now estimates fourth-quarter sales world-wide will rise at 19.8% rate, down from the 20.3% rate previously forecast."

The Wall Street Journal continued,

"Some analysts believe the final weeks (of the holiday buying season) may turn into the retail equivalent of a game of chicken, with consumers holding off PC purchases until manufacturers and retailers offer price cuts. This yearis showdown may be especially prolonged because Christmas falls on a Monday, giving consumers and retailers an additional weekend to act."

Appleis stock climbed 3/4 or 5.24% to 15 1/16 on volume of 7.6 million shares.

Apple "is evaluating Pioneer Electronicsi DVD-RW drive, which is capable of recording DVDs and CDs," claimed C/NET News, "Apple also is evaluating combo DVD/CD-RW drives, as well as standalone CD-RW," after missing the boat on CD-RW drives as an option for Mac systems in 2000.

Apple could become "a one-stop shop for independent musicians," said Tim Deal, a research analyst, interviewed by C/NET. "Apple could leverage its EarthLink agreement and provide a Web presence for Mac-created MP3s," and link that into "a marketing campaign that showcases Mac usersi ability to record original songs, burn them to CD and then make their own music videos," Apple could create "the first end-to-end creative multimedia solution for consumers."

The Nasdaq rallied 162 points (5.89%) to close at 2914 on good volume of 2.2 billion shares.

The Dow 95 points (0.90%) to close at 10712 on volume of 1.3 billion shares. The market internals were very healthy with advancing stocks are outpacing declining by a 2 to 1 margin, while up-volume led down-volume by a 3 to 1 ratio.

The S&P 500 climbed 26 points (1.93%) to close at 1389.55.

In Apple related businesses: Akamai rallied 4 3/8 to 34 1/4. Adobe bounced 5 3/8 to 68 3/8. IBM climbed 1 5/8 to 97 dollars. Dell rallied 1 1/8 to 18 9/16. Gateway was up 0.35 to 17.50 and Compaq barely budged, rising only 0.15 to 19.50.

After warning Q4 revenue will be flat yesterday, Intel plans to slash Pentium prices by up to 11%, including their top of the line, Pentium 4. In other news, Intel plans to debut a "portable digital-audio player" in January. The chip makeris stock climbed 1 11/16 to close at 34 dollars.

Although the semiconductor stocks rallied more than 11% today as a group, Dan Niles an analyst with Lehman Brothers, warned that he believes todayis rally in semiconductors will be short lived since the worst news is still ahead. However, traders are pleased Intelis stock did not decline on the flat revenues news, taking it as a sign of a near term bottom in the tech stock bear market.

Rumors of accounting irregularity pushed Sun Microsystemsi stock down 3 7/8 to 38 15/16. Yesterday, Sun announced plans to develop Java applications using the powerful new paradigm of peer-to-peer file sharing over the Internet.

Watch out Microsoft! Oracle, self-proclaimed king of the Internet software and services, is expected to announce on Monday its own Oracle.NET strategy to counter Microsoft own scheme to dominate Web-based services. Oracle climbed 1 3/4 to 30 1/16. Microsoft was higher by 1 5/16 to 54 7/16.

In economic news: The U.S. unemployment rate inched higher to 4% from 3.9% in confirmation of a slowing economy and weaker job growth for a second month. While the economy may be slowing, unemployment is just off the 30-year low of 3.9% giving Wall Street exactly what it wants: A slowing economy to convince the Feds not to raise interest rates, but not a crashing economy, which would destroy corporate profits next year.

The average hourly wage climbed 0.4% to $13.94 indicating mildly inflationary wage pressures due to the near record low unemployment.

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.