Intel Upgrade Boosts Techs

Thanks to an Intel upgrade, strength in technology shares helped stocks overcome a steep sell-off Thursday on growing fears of an economic slowdown.

Weaker than expected holiday sales reports from several retailers exacerbated slowdown fears raised Wednesday by Federal Reserve meeting minutes that said the economy may be slowing more rapidly than thought.

But optimism by Bank of America that Intel’s sales will come in at the high end of the company’s $9.1-$9.7 billion guidance range on strong mobile and server sales sent shares of the chip giant 4% higher and boosted the Nasdaq by more than 1%. Intel will report its quarterly results on Jan. 16.

Apple also helped brighten traders’ mood, gaining 2% on a JMP Securities upgrade.

Yahoo , eBay , Qualcomm and Research in Motion were other big gainers.

Witness Systems soared 19% on its earnings forecast.

SigmaTel lost 14% on its outlook.

Wire Facilities fell 13% on a restructuring plan.

The Nasdaq surged 30 to 2453, the S&P 500 added 1 to 1418, and the Dow tacked on 6 to 12,480. Volume declined to 2.94 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.2 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a few shares on the NYSE, while advancers led 17-13 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 46% on the NYSE, and 75% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 147-31 on the NYSE, and 104-44 on the Nasdaq.

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