Micron Leads Stock Market Advance

Investors continued to look on the bright side Thursday, looking past a larger than expected decline in new home sales to cheer a big drop in weekly jobless claims that suggested the economy remains strong.

Micron Technology was a big winner for the technology sector, rising 5.7% to $11.36 after Lazard Capital said it expects the company to beat estimates when it reports quarterly results next week. Analysts expect Micron to report a loss of 23 cents a share on sales of $1.39 billion. But elsewhere in the chip sector, both AMD and Intel lost ground on the day.

Corning gained 3% to $24.90 after setting a date for its quarterly earnings report, and Palm shares jumped 6% to $16.40 after unveiling a low-end smart phone.

SanDisk rose 2.3% to $54.78 on a move into China and reports of strong NAND sales and shortages at Toshiba.

GSI jumped 9% after raising guidance, and China BAK Battery continued to soar, tacking on another 20%.

Analysts had good things to say about SiRF, Westell and Right Now, but Embarq fell 4.5% to $57.06 on a Merrill Lynch downgrade.

Paychex lost 3.6% on its quarterly results.

The Nasdaq rose 10 to 2707, the S&P gained 6 to 1531, and the Dow rose 34 to 13,912. Volume declined to 2.81 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.77 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 21-10 margin on the NYSE, and 17-12 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 65% on the NYSE, and 58% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 189-89 on the NYSE, and 139-86 on the Nasdaq.

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