Thursday's Winners & Losers: Merrill Lynch

Brokerage giant stock rose after it swung to a $2 billion first-quarter loss and announced job cuts Thursday.
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Brokerage giant

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

swung to a $2 billion first-quarter loss and announced job cuts Thursday, but the stock nonetheless rose along much of the financial sector.

Investors pushed Merrill's share price up on hopes that the worst was over and that the brokerage was working through its problems. Merrill expects to lay off and additional 2,900 employees on top of the 1,100 it let go in the first quarter and also wrote down more than $6.5 billion in sub-prime mortgages and other risky products. Merrill shares closed up $1.82 to $46.71, a gain of 4.1%.

Tech stocks were down Thursday following mixed earnings reports that included a major disappointment from Finnish phone company

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

.

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

gained $2.42, or 2%, to $122.89 after it delivered a first-quarter

earnings surprise

Wednesday. Net income rose 26% to $2.32 billion, or $1.65 a share. Analysts were looking for earnings of $1.45 a share. Revenue rose 11.4% to $24.5 billion, beating Street estimates of $23.7 billion.

Nokia fell $4.81, or 14.3%, to $28.88 after the company reported

shrinking market share

and offered a warning related to the expected impact of an economic slowdown on its business. Nokia reported handset shipments of 115.5 million in the quarter, matching expectations -- but the company's market share fell to 39% from 40%.

Nokia's results sent handset maker

LM Ericsson

(ERIC) - Get Report

down 95 cents, or 4.6%, to $19.71

Health stocks, particularly pharmaceuticals, traded lower on Thursday amid earnings and investor disappointment.

Gilead

(GILD) - Get Report

was among the biotechs in the red. The company beat estimates Wednesday post close, but found itself down $1.76, or 3.4%, at $50.04 on Thursday. The HIV drug specialist reported earning $522.1 million, or 54 cents a share, before items, in the first quarter, compared to $447.6 million, or 46 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 22% to $1.26 billion. Results beat estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial who'd expected earnings of 48 cents a share on $1.2 billion in revenue.

Earnings and guidance prompted some of the biggest moves among small-cap stocks as they generally slipped into negative territory Thursday.

Shares of

Epicor

(EPIC)

, a developer of enterprise application software and services, dropped to new lows, falling 25% to $8.07. The Irvine, Calif.-based company guided for first-quarter non-GAAP earnings per share of 6 cents to 7 cents on revenue of $103 million to $104 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial are looking for EPS of 17 cents on revenue of $113.5 million.

Also falling, Milpitas, Calif.-based

Credence Systems

(CMOS)

tumbled 24% to $1.32. The designer of engineering validation test equipment announced it expects a first-quarter loss of $9 million to $11 million, or 9 cents to 11 cents a share. The Street is looking for a 6-cent EPS loss.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.