Stocks Boosted by Tech, Close Higher - TheStreet

Stocks Boosted by Tech, Close Higher

Stocks edge up as tech bullishness outweighs the dollar's rise to a three-month high. Gregg Greenberg recaps the action in The Real Story.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Stocks closed slightly higher Friday, as a strong tech sector helped the major averages overcome a midday swoon caused by a strengthening dollar.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 21 points, or 0.2%, to 10,329. The

S&P 500

improved by 6 points, or 0.6%, at 1102, while the

Nasdaq

added 32 points, or 1.5%, at 2212.

Tech stocks outpaced the rest of the market Friday, buoyed by better-than-expected earnings from some of the sector's stalwarts after Thursday's closing bell. That showing, in turn, pushed the tech-heavy Nasdaq up 1% higher for the week. The Dow finished down 1.4% since last Friday, while the S&P 500 slumped 0.4%.

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Research In Motion

(RIMM)

soared past analysts' estimates late Thursday, reporting a spike in profits and

strong Blackberry sales in its third quarter. Shares closed $6.57 higher, or 10.4%, to $70.03.

Database giant

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

, which beat earnings targets Thursday with strong second-quarter results, rose $1.46, or 6.4%, to $24.34.

"The tech earnings are coming in spectacularly," said Michael Pento, chief economist at Delta Global Advisors. "Let's just be honest. The tech earnings were fantastic and it's probably because people are looking to do anything to increase productivity.

"It's not my favorite place in the long term," added Pento, who is predicting a double-dip recession. "But for right now tech seems to be the safest part of the market."

A trio of blue-chip tech stocks led advancers on the Dow, as

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

and

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

rose 2.9%, 2.2% and 1.9%, respectively.

The banking sector also helped lead advancers in the afternoon, as the KBW Bank Index rose 2.3%. Shares of

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

and

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

improved 1.1% and 1.7% each.

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

, which beat analysts' estimates by a nickel Thursday, and video-game maker

Take-Two Interactive

(TTWO) - Get Report

, which matched expectations yesterday, climbed 1.9% and 9.2%, respectively, in afternoon trading. Shares of

Palm

(PALM)

shed 13.2% after the mobile-products maker posted a larger loss than Wall Street had projected.

Friday's large volumes were spurred by quarterly S&P index rebalancing and the year's final so-called "quadruple witching" event, when stock index futures, stock index options, single stock futures and stock options all expire at the same time.

Still, stocks tended to move inversely with the dollar for yet another session. The greenback rose to a new three-month high earlier as tensions in the Middle East pushed the dollar higher against foreign currencies. The dollar index was holding flat of late following a retreat after midday.

"The dollar is the most salient issue I could find today," added Pento, who also noted the continuing travails from Standard and Poor's ratings downgrade on Greece's debt. "As long as we have this dollar strengthening on the misconception that Ben Bernanke will be tightening rates sooner and more aggressively, then you're going to have a headwind in the stock market."

Gold futures closed at a new monthly low of $1,107.40 an ounce on Thursday. But the February contract settled higher on Friday, adding $4.10 at $1,111.50 an ounce.

Crude oil futures, however, surged earlier on reports that Iranian troops entered Iraq's Fakka oil field, according to Platts' George Johnson. The February crude contract settled at $74.42 a barrel after adding 34 cents today.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.8%, and Japan's Nikkei declined 0.2%. The FTSE in London dropped 0.4%, and the DAX in Frankfurt slipped 0.2%.

Zale's

(ZLC)

stock took a beating on reports that it has canceled some orders and refused to accept inventory at the end of November. Shares shed 17.8% to $2.08.

Negotiations between Irish airline

Ryanair

and

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

failed to yield a deal for the roughly 200 new B737-800 series aircraft under discussion. Shares of Boeing fell off by $1.03, or 1.9%, to $53.44.

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

appears close to picking up

Yelp

, the user-generated review site, for upwards of $500 million, according to TechCrunch

reports.

CarMax

(KMX) - Get Report

said used-car sales rose 9.3% in the third quarter as it posted better-than-expected earnings Friday morning. Its stock rose $1.53, or 7%, to $23.35.

Shares of

Carnival

(CCL) - Get Report

slumped after the cruise operator issued weak first-quarter guidance after tough pricing and fewer travelers weighed on fourth-quarter profit. Shares were bid lower by 3.4% to $32.22.

--Written by Melinda Peer and Sung Moss in New York

.