SAN FRANCISCO -- More befitting last week's religious overtones than this week's secular (earnings) focus, the stock market produced something akin to a miracle today. Despite prophecies of doom after
warning last night, major averages instead produced a true, blue-green spectacle.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose 0.6%, the
gained 1% and the
climbed 0.7% as advancing stocks bested decliners in both
and over-the-counter trading.
If the market's ability to mainly shrug off the news from Cisco today had many investors excited, the
news after the bell from
had them downright elated.
The chip giant posted first-quarter earnings of 16 cents a share, down substantially from both fourth-quarter and year-ago levels, but slightly ahead of consensus estimates. At $6.7 billion, Intel's revenues also slightly bested expectations. More tellingly, the company made some positive comments about the current quarter:
"Our microprocessor business appears to have stabilized and we expect to see normal seasonal patterns going forward from our current business level," Craig Barrett, president and chief executive, said in a statement. "In our communications businesses, we are experiencing continued softness."
Intel also said it is maintaining plans to spend $7.5 billion on capital equipment this year, which further inspired the bulls. Reflecting the excitement, a host of tech stocks were soaring in after-hours trading while Nasdaq 100 futures were recently up 42 to 1714.50 and S&P 500 futures were up 17 to 1213.20 in
As noted in
Columnist Conversation this morning (in response to
poll question), I've been cautiously optimistic since
March 22 and bought shares of a
Wilshire 5000 Index fund a few days later. The action since, and again today, has been encouraging.
I have long argued that the economy was not in as dire straits as most pundits/economists contend, a view supported by recent action in the bond market, as well as today's
Redbook Retail Sales
data. On the flip side, housing starts were weaker than expected and the layoffs continue to mount. (The
Consumer Price Index
was in line with expectations, although the recent spike in gasoline prices does not bode well for next month's report. I maintain that continued aggressive
easing and tax cuts could trigger
inflationary pressures down the road.)
Furthermore, despite concerns about continued declining fundamentals (i.e. Cisco), I'm emboldened by the ongoing skepticism in the face of every advance, which was certainly evident today.
"I remain concerned about the sustainability of today's action," commented Charles Payne of
Wall Street Strategies
, who is not known for being bearish. "The news from the tech world is so alarming that investors just naturally believe this is the worst it can get. We can see the rationale and understand the reason for hope. However, the bears are not swayed. There is ever-present danger and most portfolios will stay at the bottom of the ocean for a very long time."
Bill Fleckenstein of
in Seattle, who is known for being bearish, said "the fact stocks act well
in the face of Cisco's news doesn't mean anything if you're an investor." In fact, Cisco's inventory problems support the case it's too early to call a bottom in the chip sector, he claimed, repeating comments from
Today's action "is part of my point that we've just been through a mania where nothing related to fundamentals matters," the hedge fund manager continued. "This proves my point about speculation. It's a total fallacy that all the bad news is out."
Similarly, Intel's earnings report was barely two minutes old when I got an email from another, equally bearish, hedge fund manager who critically dissected the report, a process that's likely to continue.
Still, as I noted in the
chat with my pal
thought the market would get killed today because of Cisco. Now,
expects a huge rally tomorrow because of Intel. As always, beware of getting caught up in the emotional swings, and maintain your discipline, whatever it may be.
While I'm leaning bullish on the macro picture these days, I have to concede to the skeptics when it comes to many individual stories, as with this follow-up to my comment in the
Columnist Conversation about Cisco.
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Aaron L. Task writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He invites you to send your feedback to
Aaron L. Task.