Microsoft's ( MSFT)
solid second-quarter earnings provided an invigorating pick-me-up as earnings season reached its midpoint. And good news from eBay ( EBAY) and Yahoo! ( YHOO) earlier this week also didn't hurt at all. But Mr. Softee's better-than-expected numbers weren't nearly enough to cure the blahs that continue to haunt tech stocks. The Nasdaq posted another losing week (down 0.7% since Friday), sparked in part by Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD), which, mired down in the big muddy waters of a price war with Intel ( INTC), posted a truly ugly quarter. One big reason for the long faces (and short positions) is this: Among S&P 500 companies, tech earnings grew by a paltry 2% in the December quarter, while overall earnings by index companies grew by just under 10%, according to Thomson Financial. A final accounting of the quarter's strength is still a week or so away; just 39% of the S&P 500 has phoned home, and a bit more than half of the tech companies have reported. But what we've seen so far is making a lot of investors -- already fretting over inflation -- nervous. Thomson also reports that of the 39 tech companies that have posted earnings, about two-thirds have exceeded expectations and only a few more than 10% have missed. On the surface, that looks like a bullish performance. But consider this: The growth in S&P 500 tech earnings was just a fraction of what it was at this time last year, when profits were up a solid 18% year over year.