IBM, AMD Not Much Help for Stocks

Better than expected results from IBM, AMD and GE helped for all of about an hour on Friday.

The stock market opened sharply higher, peaked about 45 minutes later, and then spent the rest of the day on the defensive to end the worst week for stocks since July 2002, with the S&P 500 off more than 5%. Three weeks into January, the market is off to its worst start ever, with the S&P down nearly 10%.

The reason for Friday’s sell-off was a financial stimulus plan from the Bush administration that was neither as big nor as detailed as traders were hoping for, the latest government response to the credit market meltdown that traders have deemed inadequate.

AMD shares rocketed 11.5% after the company posted a narrower than expected loss, and IBM gained 2.3% after raising estimates for the second time this week.

But the good news did little to lift the rest of the tech sector, as the Nasdaq ended the day 0.3% lower.

Sprint Nextel plunged 25% on subscriber losses and layoffs, and Seagate fell 9% on a weak revenue outlook.

Xilinx and Skyworks posted double-digit percentage gains on their results.

Next week will see more earnings reports from some of the sector’s biggest names, including, Apple, Texas Instruments, eBay, Motorola, Symantec, AT&T, Nokia and Microsoft.

The Nasdaq lost 7 to 2340, the S&P fell 8 to 1325, and the Dow lost 60 to 12,099. Volume rose to 6 billion shares on the NYSE, and 3 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a 21-12 margin on the NYSE, and 19-11 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 59% on the NYSE, and 63% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 13-634 on the NYSE, and 35-559 on the Nasdaq.

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