RealTime IT News

Consumer Survey Lifts Stocks

Stocks rallied from a bad start to finish in the black on Friday, fueled in large part by a survey showing an unexpected increase in consumer confidence.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Index by the University of Michigan and Reuters showed a larger-than-anticipated increase in consumer sentiment to 83.8 in September, up from 83.4 in August and more than Wall Street’s projected 83.5.

The survey was released in mid-morning and appeared to be responsible for turning around the market. All three major U.S. stock indexes stumbled badly out of the trading gate, with the Dow dropping almost 100 points alone. By market’s close, however, the Dow Jones was up 18 points to 13443, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained just a point to 2602 and the S&P 500 also eked out a one-point gain to finish at 1484.

Lost in the investor elation was the fact that the CCI index remains near a yearly low, as problems in the housing and credit markets continue to weigh on consumer confidence.

Like the indexes, most major tech stocks treaded water Friday. One exception was Yahoo , which jumped 1.01 to 24.73, a gain of 4.3 percent, on no discernible news.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, Ltd. climbed 1.52, or 1.8 percent, to 87.26, its fifth consecutive gain. On Wednesday, wireless provider T-Mobile announced it would cut the monthly fee for BlackBerry’s email service.

Computer and iPod maker Apple rose 1.61, or 1.2 percent, to 138.81. The company on Friday began the $100 in-store credit to early purchasers of the iPhone. Apple slashed the iPhone’s price by $200 just weeks after its highly promoted debut, incurring the wrath of many Apple loyalists.

Chip maker Intel Corp. dropped 42 cents, or 1.7 percent, to 24.93 after Merrill Lynch on Friday downgraded its stock to neutral from buy, questioning how long shares can sustain upward momentum. Intel stock has surged 35 percent in the past six months.

Google finished up 3.97, or 0.8 percent, to 528.75. On Thursday the search giant urged businesses and regulators throughout the world to establish global standards for protecting consumer privacy.