Cisco Turns Techs Positive

A steep sell-off Tuesday on worries about Intel’s margins and Citigroup’s losses turned into a slight gain for the Nasdaq by the close after Cisco Systems reaffirmed its long-term growth forecast.

Intel traded 3% lower for much of the day after warning that NAND flash pricing pressures are hurting margins, but managed to follow the Nasdaq back to breakeven after Cisco CEO John Chambers reaffirmed the company’s long-term 12-17% growth forecast at the Morgan Stanley tech conference. Cisco ended the day 2% off its lows. and Apple also provided support for stocks. Amazon gained 4.7% after reaffirming its 2008 forecast at the Bear Stearns retail conference, and Apple climbed 2.4% after sticking to its iPhone sales forecast.

Also boosting stocks late in the day were reports that bond insurer Ambac Financial is progressing on a bailout plan. Early in the day, worries about Citigroup’s funding levels and a stark assessment of the housing market by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke also weighed on the market.

Applied Materials was a standout, soaring 7.6% on a $1.9 billion solar power equipment deal.

Microsoft, HP and IBM were winners, but Google sagged yet again, off 2.7%.

Tessera Technologies tumbled 39% after losing a key patent. The company will appeal the USPTO ruling.

The Nasdaq added 1 to 2260, the S&P slipped 4 to 1326, and the Dow fell 45 to 12,213. Volume rose to 4.76 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.69 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a 22-10 margin on the NYSE, and 17-11 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 70% on the NYSE, and 51% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 35-268 on the NYSE, and 44-324 on the Nasdaq.

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