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Red Hat Rockets On Earnings

Shares of Red Hat soared 30% Thursday after the company beat earnings estimates, powering the Nasdaq to strong gains on the day.

Red Hat's profit of $16.7 million, or 9 cents a share, was up almost 50% from the year-ago quarter and two cents a share better than analysts were expecting. Sales rose 42% to $65.7 million as the Linux vendor benefited from strong corporate subscriber growth.

Looking ahead, Red Hat said it expects third-quarter earnings of 9-10 cents a share on sales of $70.5-$71.5 million, also ahead of forecasts.

Micron Technology tried to extended the party after the close when the memory chipmaker reported earnings of 7 cents a share — 15 cents better than the loss analysts were expecting. Sales of $1.26 billion were also comfortably ahead of forecasts, and gross margins of 22.4% were more than three percentage points better than expected. Micron shares rose 4% after hours, on top of a 3.8% gain during the day.

The broader market rose on gains attributed to end-of-the quarter window dressing, and a small decline in energy prices also helped.

The Nasdaq surged 25 to 2141, the S&P rose 10 to 1227, and the Dow climbed 79 to 10,552. Volume rose to 2.16 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.83 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 22-9 on the NYSE, and 19-11 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 73% on the NYSE, and 72% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 186-94 on the NYSE, and 99-76 on the Nasdaq.

Research In Motion investors were left out of the fun, as RIMM shares fell 9.6% after the company issued a disappointing third-quarter outlook.

IDX Systems soared 23% after agreeing to be acquired by GE .

WebMD Health soared 38% after being spun off by parent WebMD , which will become Endeon.

E*Trade rose 5.5% on a big acquisition.

August Tech fell 13% on a revenue restatement.