Chip Stocks Extend Tech Rally

The Nasdaq eked out a gain for the sixth straight day on Friday on news of a slight improvement in chip equipment orders in April.

SEMI reported an increase in chip equipment orders last month to a three-month average of $1 billion, down 37% from a year ago but up slightly from March’s $988 million in orders. With the book-to-bill ratio climbing to 0.80 — but still well below parity — investors were encouraged enough to hope for a rebound in the sector, bidding the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index 1.2% higher on the day.

“We are in a stasis period where we have yet to see a significant change in business for North American-based providers of new semiconductor manufacturing equipment,” said Stanley Myers, president and CEO of SEMI, in a statement.

Still, following a warning from Applied Materials earlier in the week, the news was good enough for the Nasdaq to post a small gain on the day even as blue chips ended their four-day winning streak.

The Nasdaq rose 3 to 2046, the S&P 500 slipped 1 to 1189, and the Dow fell 21 to 10,471. Volume declined to 1.63 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.54 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 17-14 on the NYSE, and 15-14 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 58% on the NYSE, and 38% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 63-22 on the NYSE, and 57-43 on the Nasdaq.

JDA Software jumped 12% on a UBS upgrade, and Opsware soared 22% on its results.

Marvell climbed 4% on its earnings report, while Autodesk , Serena and Brocade fell on their results.

Intellisync plunged 20% after the company reported a loss.

Netflix slipped 1% on worries that it may still see competition from .

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