IBM, AMD Try to Right Stocks

Stocks hit fresh 15-month lows Thursday, but at least IBM and AMD investors had some reason to smile.

AMD shares edged higher in late trading despite posting quarterly sales that were below Wall Street estimates, as investors cheered better than expected margins that led to a pro forma loss that wasn’t as bad as analysts had feared.

And IBM shares jumped 4% after the company raised guidance for the second time in a week, this time raising its 2008 earnings forecast.

For the rest of the market, it was another dismal day, however, as the correction approached 15% in the major indexes on the lowest Mid-Atlantic manufacturing reading since October 2001 and fears that the credit crisis could sink bond insurers. Once again, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke endorsed fiscal stimulus and Fed action to prevent a recession, yet delivered no rate cuts to back up the talk.

A few tech names managed to buck the downtrend, if only modestly.

Sun was up for a second day after announcing the acquisition of MySQL and reaffirming financial guidance. Sun reports full results Jan. 24.

Dell added 1% on a Gartner report that said the company posted strong PC sales in the fourth quarter.

eBay was up a fraction on a Bear Stearns upgrade ahead of its Jan. 23 earnings report, and Tibco edged higher on a Citigroup upgrade.

The Nasdaq lost 47 to 2346, the S&P fell 40 to 1333, and the Dow plunged 307 to 12,159. Volume rose to 5.54 billion shares on the NYSE, but declined to 2.86 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a 28-5 margin on the NYSE, and 23-7 margin on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 90% on the NYSE, and 79% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 26-479 on the NYSE, and 52-369 on the Nasdaq.

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