eBay, Intel Power Stocks to Third Straight Gain

Tech stocks extended their best rally since November into a third day on Thursday, with eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) leading the way higher.

eBay gained 4% in the wake of an upbeat analyst day.

Intel rose 4% on a Broadpoint AmTech upgrade and comments from other analysts that the chip market may finally be bottoming. Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA), Applied Materials (NASDAQ: AMAT) and Broadcom (NASDAQ: BRCM) gained 5% or more each.

Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) climbed 5% on reports of more job cuts, and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) added 4% on reports that new iPhone software is coming. Apple may have also benefited from a new Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) drug that appears to help pancreatic cancer, which has afflicted CEO Steve Jobs.

Micron (NYSE: MU) tacked on another 9% on hopes that the company could benefit from a Taiwan government plan to support memory chip companies.

But Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) was left out of the rally, slipping 0.6% after a Morgan Stanley analyst lowered estimates on the company because of weak PC sales.

The broader market rallied on better than expected retail sales and hopes for relief for financial companies from mark-to-market accounting rules, while a guilty plea from fraudulent fund manager Bernard Madoff also appeared to boost stocks. A better than expected ratings outlook for GE (NYSE: GE) also helped the stock market.

The Nasdaq rose 54 to 1426, the S&P 500 gained 29 to 750, and the Dow surged 239 to 7170. Volume rose to 8.47 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.55 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 33-4 margin on the NYSE, and 22-5 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 94% on the NYSE, and 88% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 7-112 on the NYSE, and 9-108 on the Nasdaq.

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