Earnings Season Approaches

Earnings from Research in Motion and analyst meetings at Dell and Nokia could give investors an early look this week at the state of first-quarter earnings reports.

The pre-announcement period contained little in the way of warnings from leading technology names — warnings from TI and Novellus were balanced by strong outlooks from Intel and Micron — so investors will have much to learn from this month’s earnings reports about the state of IT spending.

RIMM will report its earnings after the close on Tuesday. Analysts are looking for earnings of 65 cents a share, up from 28 cents in the year-ago quarter, on sales of $410 million. On Monday, investors fretted about possible competition from Microsoft in the form of a new Windows Mobile release, but the stock managed a small gain on the day anyway.

Dell will hold its analyst meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, and Nokia will hold its annual meeting on Thursday. Analysts generally expect good things from the two tech giants, although Goldman Sachs expects Dell to say that consumer spending remains soft.

Stocks posted modest gains Monday as oil prices retreated and hopes rose for a settlement of AIG’s accounting troubles.

The Nasdaq rose 6 to 1991, the S&P 500 added 3 to 1176, and the Dow climbed 16 to 10,421. Volume declined to 2.09 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.63 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 17-15 on the NYSE, but decliners led 16-14 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 50% on the NYSE, and 52% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 59-57 on the NYSE, and 42-135 on the Nasdaq.

Qwest rose 5% after rival Verizon said it may walk away from MCI .

NetIQ fell 8% on a warning.

Nam Tai rose 4.8% on its results.

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