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Palm, EMC Send Tech Stocks Higher

Palm (NASDAQ: PALM), EMC (NYSE: EMC) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) led tech stocks higher on Thursday even as blue chip stocks were weighed down by dismal retail sales reports.

Palm rocketed 35% after the company unveiled its long-awaited new mobile operating system and a smart phone.

EMC climbed 6% after the company said it will meet estimates, news that boosted shares of subsidiary VMware (NYSE: VMW) and competitor NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP).

And Microsoft climbed 3% on a deal with Verizon Wireless and the appearance of Windows 7.

The excitement about the tech sector was enough to overcome disappointing sales from Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and other retailers, even as traders braced for Friday's monthly government jobs report, which is expected to show a loss of 500,000 jobs for the second month in a row.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) managed to gain 1.7% despite Wal-Mart's warning, as the company's guidance last month suggests that it's one of the few retailers faring well despite the economic slowdown.

Thinkorswim (NASDAQ: SWIM) soared 48% on news that it will be acquired by TD Ameritrade (NASDAQ: AMTD).

But Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) slumped 8% on a Goldman Sachs downgrade. The company will report quarterly results on Jan. 27.

Parametric (NASDAQ: PMTC) fell 19% after lowering its guidance.

The Nasdaq rose 17 to 1617, the S&P 500 added 3 to 909, and the Dow fell 27 to 8742. Volume declined to 5.09 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 23-15 margin on the NYSE, and 17-10 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 61% on the NYSE, and 70% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 11-62 on the NYSE, and 15-25 on the Nasdaq.