Microsoft Dampens Expectations

Microsoft shares slipped in late trading Thursday after CEO Steve Ballmer said analysts may be expecting too much from the new Vista operating system.

In a presentation to financial analysts, Ballmer said Vista sales estimates are “overly aggressive,” according to Reuters, comments that sent Microsoft shares about 1% lower in late trading.

Ballmer also said the company’s fiscal 2008 operating expenses will decline somewhat, and he said Microsoft is willing to spend to acquire online customers in its battle with Google .

Stocks rose again Thursday as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke repeated Wednesday’s soothing congressional testimony, even though manufacturing reports were mixed. Wholesale inflation data will be reported Friday morning.

Qualcomm gained 4% on an Oppenheimer upgrade.

Network Appliance , Avici , Chordiant and Stratasys surged on their results.

Baidu , RealNetworks and TRX fell on their earnings reports.

TALX surged on a buyout offer from Equifax .

BEA rose 4% after moving to resolve stock option accounting issues.

OpNext and had happy IPOs, up nearly 20% each.

The Nasdaq rose 8 to 2497, the S&P 500 gained 1 to 1456, and the Dow rose 23 to 12,765. Volume declined to 2.49 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.03 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 19-13 on the NYSE, and by a few issues on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 56% on the NYSE, and 65% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 327-10 on the NYSE, and 166-41 on the Nasdaq.

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