This week, earnings season has gotten off to a strong start with tech giants
energizing the sector after posting better-than-expected results. But are robust earnings the answer to keeping investors' attention on those tech darlings of 1999? Where is that Y2K correction, anyway?
By midday, last night's earnings reports were driving the market. "Tech is the leading story of the morning," said Robert Harrington, co-head of block trading at
, referring to the IBM's strong results. "Tech has had good news but it's not as 'up, up, and away' as it used to be, especially in the Internet stocks. The activity is probably news-specific at this point."
Nasdaq Composite Index
was up 4 to 4155, clinging to positive territory on strong gains from Apple, which was bouncing, 13 1/2, or 13%, to 117 7/16.
was losing 14 1/4, or 31.4%, to 31 1/8 after posting soft fourth-quarter revenue.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index was slipping 4 to 1128.
was dragging 13 1/8, or 3.6%, to 350 7/8, while
was off 1 1/16, or 1.6%, to 63 13/16, despite a solid earnings report.
Although earnings maybe the force behind today's trading, some Wall Street insiders continue to wonder if there's any reason not to stay tech-happy after experiencing a hitch-less millennium date change. "The big surprise for the tech sector will be if the slowdown in spending doesn't occur," said Brian Gilmartin, portfolio manager for
Trinity Asset Management
. "That's where you'll get continued upside in technology."
And with investors pumping cash into the equity market as companies continue to beat the consensus numbers, there doesn't look to be an end to the tech boom, at least anytime soon. "The indications from the conference calls are that the first quarter will continue to be strong because the normal seasonal downturn that we usually see in the first quarter, already occurred in the fourth quarter," said Gilmartin.
For now, it seems as if the brief rotation out of tech and into more cyclical sectors has stalled out. But Gilmartin said he has seen a rotation within the tech sector itself. "You've seen a shift. The typical momentum stocks, such as
, are continuing to do well but you're seeing some of the beaten-down names, like IBM,
, come back."
In Nasdaq trading,
was soaring 30 5/8, or 14.3%, to 245 1/2 after reporting stellar fourth-quarter earnings and a 2-for-1 stock split.
meeting only a little more than two weeks away and a likely rate hike looming, investors seem to be shrugging off their usual fears. "I think interest rates are being ignored because there is no inflation," said Gilmartin. "Probably, if we get to 7% on the 30-year, we'll see equity prices and market valuations taking note of that."
And with a strong global economy comes financial strength for companies. "Basically, a lot of companies are being able to raise their prices on their products, which they haven't been able to do since 1994 and 1995," Gilmartin said. "
have made announcements that they would raise prices on some of their product lines."
In midday trading activity, cyclical stocks were struggling, with the
Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was sinking 190, or 1.7%, to 11,299, with
Procter & Gamble
holding the index down.
index was declining 15, or 1%, to 1441, while the smaller-cap
was moving up 2 to 522.
Breadth was negative on moderate volume.
New York Stock Exchange:
1,069 advancers, 1,868 decliners, 667 million shares. 74 new 52-week highs, 87 new lows.
Nasdaq Stock Market:
1,875 advancers, 2,087 decliners, 1.15 billion shares. 340 new highs, 47 new lows.
For a look at stocks in the midsession news, see Midday Movers, published separately.