Intel, Microsoft Could Boost Stocks

Intel got some rare kind words from an analyst on Monday.

Thomas Weisel Partners said it expects Intel to raise its revenue and margin guidance modestly when the company delivers its mid-quarter update on Thursday.

The Wall Street firm said its checks and data points suggest healthy demand for computing products. TWP said it expects 5% sequential growth in total units, with 10% shipment growth in notebook microprocessors.

For Intel’s December quarter, analysts are looking for earnings of 28 cents a share on sales of $8.95 billion.

Also on Thursday, Microsoft will pay out its special one-time $30 billion dividend. The payout — equivalent to a few months of mutual fund inflows — could boost both the market and the economy in the hands of institutional and individual investors.

Tech stocks edged higher on Monday, but blue chips were held back on disappointing holiday sales at Wal-Mart .

The Nasdaq rose 4 to 2104, the S&P 500 declined 4 to 1178, and the Dow fell 46 to 10,475. Volume declined from Wednesday’s levels to 1.38 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.85 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 19-14 on the NYSE, while advancers led 17-13 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 42% on the NYSE, and 62% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 400-9 on the NYSE, and 276-15 on the Nasdaq.

After the close, Semtech met estimates but warned.

During the day, Apple jumped 6% on upgrades from Merrill Lynch, UBS and Bank of America.

Overstock gained 5% after the company reported strong holiday sales.

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