Displaying Chuck Wepner-like resilience, the Nasdaq Composite Index has followed through on yesterday's late-session bounce, and has by now recovered nearly all of yesterday's Microsoft-led losses.
With strong earnings reports providing the backbeat, breadth is strong, with advancers ahead of decliners 2-to-1 on both the
Nasdaq Stock Market
. That's all well and good, but it's left traders wondering: Will it last?
"The saga of the yo-yo continues," said Bill Schneider, head of U.S. equity block trading at
Warburg Dillon Read
Lately, the Comp was up 131, or 3.8%, to 3614, continuing a rebound that started with the Comp down 298 points intraday yesterday. Money flowed back into most technology arenas. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average
gained 95, or 0.9%, to 11,001 -- its first intraday sojourn above 11,000 since April 13 -- led by tech components
was up 27, or 1.9%, to 1456.
"We've seen good volume and good breadth, but the question is sustainability," said Brian Piskorowski, market analyst at
. "We've seen volatile moves on both sides of the coin."
For the most part, traders were pleased with the advance, which has built on the near-150 point jump the Comp put together in the last half-hour of
yesterday's session. From a market standpoint, yesterday's reaming of
is a positive, because the loss of that company as a market leader is, perhaps, a sign that the Nasdaq has retested its recent lows for good.
Microsoft, which fell sharply yesterday, was up today, gaining 2 1/8 to 68 3/4 on 50.9 million shares, making it the Nasdaq's most active. Published articles today suggest the
is weighing a breakup of the software company that would split its Office applications off from the rest of the company.
"The turnaround felt pretty good yesterday and, through the ensuing rally, feels like a capitulation that took apart the largest Nasdaq stocks," said Schneider. "Well, if not them, at least Microsoft."
As a TaskMaster column pointed out
yesterday, big-cap tech names like
haven't flinched since hitting their nadir on April 14. Cisco was up 12.8% from that day through yesterday, but was lately flat, and Oracle was up 20%, tacking on a further 1.5% today.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index gained 43, or 5.7%, to 799 1/2. led by the likes of
, up 8.9%, and
, up 5.3%, after both were losers yesterday.
was the most actively traded on the Big Board, gaining 2 1/16, or 3.6%, to 60 1/16 on 10 million shares.
Yesterday's middling volume prevents some from feeling confident that the low was touched, but volume is much improved today, especially on the Nasdaq, where more than 869 million shares have already changed hands (translating to approximately a 1.6 billion-share day, which is reasonably strong).
Not that calling a bottom matters these days, according to Schneider. "All you have to do is not get committed to one side or the other," he said. "You just need to remain nimble -- you're not going to make a fortune, but you're not get blown up either."
Oh, Yeah -- Earnings
Several Dow components have beaten the Street today, reporting first-quarter earnings that exceeded expectations, as has been the case for most S&P companies this quarter.
, up 1%, and
, up 4.4%, are among the stalwarts rising on strong first-quarter reports.
Meanwhile, Dow components
Procter & Gamble
are bleeding, even after both companies reported solid first-quarter earnings. 3M, which reported earnings per share of $1.21, far outpacing estimates for $1.08 a share, lately was down 7 7/16, or 7.6%, to 89 15/16, while P&G, which reported in line with estimates, was off 4 1/2, or 6.4%, to 66.
Piskorowski judged himself pleased with today's breadth, but he and others mentioned Thursday's first-quarter
Employment Cost Index, a key measure of wage inflation, as providing a bit of a ceiling on investor conviction right now.
After April 14's
Consumer Price Index report, which showed a 0.4% increase in core CPI (excluding food and energy prices), the market is understandably jittery of inflation figures, especially if anything signals that the
Fed could start hiking rates in increments greater than 25 basis points, starting with May 16's
Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
That's unlikely to happen, but Syl Marquardt, director of research at
John Hancock Funds
, believes the shift toward some traditionally defensive plays, such as drugs and consumer goods companies, will continue. The
American Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical Index
is only fractionally higher today, however, as investors concentrate on boosting tech stocks.
Semiconductors regained strength today, led by a 5.9% surge in
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
rose 22.7% after the announcement of a takeover bid by Dow component
. IP was off 7.7%.
Among the big gainers on the NYSE were
, up 14.9%, and
, which gained 4%.
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Forest & Paper Products Index
gained 4.6% today. The
Dow Jones Transportation Average
was up 2.6%, while the
Dow Jones Utilities Average
Breadth was solid on above-average volume.
New York Stock Exchange
: 1,861 advancers, 940 decliners, 577 million shares. 35 new highs, 39 new lows.
Nasdaq Stock Market
: 2,527 advancers, 1,314 decliners, 869 million shares. 23 new highs, 61 new lows.
For a look at stocks in the midsession news, see Midday Stocks to Watch, published separately.