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Green Machine Revved Up by Good News From Bigshots

Microsoft, Motorola, Yahoo! and GE say some positive words. What's the bad news? Last week's jobless claims were the highest since 1992.
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(Updated from 10:47 a.m.)

The market got a green light today from some heavyweights:

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

,

Motorola

(MOT)

,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report

and

GE

(GE) - Get General Electric Company (GE) Report

.

At noon, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 142.8 points, or 1.4%, to 10,384.5, while the

Nasdaq Composite was rising 69.7 points, or 3.5%, to 2041.8. The broader-market

S&P 500 was gain18 points, or 1.5%, to 1198.32. Advancers were trouncing decliners on both the

New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq.

For the market, which traded at its lowest level in three months over the past two days, positive signs from the tech sector were a welcome relief. "It's a step in the right direction," said Bob Basel, director of listed trading at

Salomon Smith Barney

. "There's more interest in stocks today than there has been lately."

Today's rally doesn't give the all-clear signal, however. Weekly data on the labor market, a weak area of the economy, are showing deteriorating conditions. The results were distorted by a seasonal downturn in the auto sector and the July 4 holiday. But still, the number of

initial jobless claims filed for the week ending July 7 was the highest since 1992, sharply exceeding the drop economists had forecast.

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For the moment, however, Wall Street has earnings on the brain. Internet portal Yahoo! posted sharply lower earnings of $8.7 million, or 1 cent a share, compared to $69.2 million, or 11 cents a share, in the year-ago period. But the company

beat analysts' expectations (though they had already been lowered) that the company would break even. And investors were pleased: Yahoo! was lately jumping 5.2% to $17.91.

Handset giant Motorola

rang in a second consecutive quarterly operating loss, saying it lost $232 million, or 11 cents a share, excluding items, compared with earnings of $551 million, or 25 cents a share in the year-ago period. But Motorola, nonetheless, beat (already lowered) analyst estimates by a penny a share and was gaining 12.8% to $17.68. Rival

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Nokia Oyj Sponsored ADR Report

was higher by 4.3% to $18.78.

Software Microsoft raised its revenue bar, estimating it would have

sales of $6.5 billion to $6.6 billion, up from previous guidance of $6.3 billion to $6.5 billion. The company also said it planned to post a $2.6 billion writedown for weakened investments. Additionally, Mister Softee said it would allow computer makers to customize computer screens with direct links to Microsoft rivals, in a nod to a court's finding of antitrust violations. Microsoft was recently up 6.3% to $70.70.

The good news spread beyond the tech sector today.

General Electric

(GE) - Get General Electric Company (GE) Report

said it met analysts' second-quarter earnings estimates of 39 cents a share, up from 34 cents in the year-ago period. Since last week's decision by the European Commission to kill the company's proposed acquisition of

Honeywell

(HON) - Get Honeywell International Inc. (HON) Report

, GE's stock dropped more than 10%, to $44.61 from $49.51. It was lately up 3.6% to $46.20.

And

Redback Networks

(RBAK)

managed to

beat the Street's revised loss-per-share estimates for the second quarter. The stock was up 3.4% to $6.75. Competitor

Juniper

(JNPR) - Get Juniper Networks, Inc. (JNPR) Report

was jumping 5.4% to $25.85.

With second-quarter earnings season in full swing, stocks have straddled positive and negative ground. The earnings outlook remains mixed, and investors are waiting for signs that the economy is turning around. After a springtime rally, the major averages have retreated from recent highs reached on May 21. As of Wednesday's close, the Nasdaq was 14.5% below its May 21 close of 2305.6, and the Dow was off by 10.7% from 11,337.9. The S&P 500 lost 11.2% since then. Year to date, the Nasdaq is off 20.2%, the Dow is 5.1% lower and the S&P 500 has declined by 10.6%.