Microsoft Settlement Boosts Stocks

News of a potential settlement in the Microsoft antitrust case sent stocks soaring on Thursday.

Traders ignored a steep plunge in NAPM manufacturing activity to a new cyclical low, suggesting that the long recession in manufacturing will continue a while longer. October unemployment numbers will be released tomorrow morning.

The ISDEX rose 3 to 146, and the Nasdaq surged 56 to 1746. The S&P 500 climbed 24 to 1084, and the Dow rose 188 to 9263. Volume declined to 1.31 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.77 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by 22 to 8 on the NYSE, and 20 to 14 on the Nasdaq.

After the close, Priceline topped estimates and raised guidance; BEA warned; and Homestore and S1 warned.

During the day, Microsoft surged 3.69 to 61.84 on news that the company had reached a tentative antitrust settlement with the Justice Department. It is not clear if the 18 state attorneys general will go along with the proposed settlement. MSFT stock was repelled at its 200 day moving average at 62.33.

Intel rose 1.52 to 5.94 on positive analyst comments and an SIA report that Robertson Stephens said could mark a turning point.

Network Appliance soared 2.42 to 15.72 on positive comments by SoundView.

Storage Tek hit a new 52-week high.

GlobeSpan fell 1.05 to 10.91 despite topping estimates.

IBM shook off a downgrade to rise 1.82 to 109.89.

Some technical comments on the market: Note: We include charts in the technical market commentary. If you can’t get the charts via the e-mail newsletter version, try this link:

The Dow (first chart) bounced exactly at its .386 retracement level today (9015), holding critical 9000 support in the process. If this rally is going to go anywhere, 9180-9223 looks like the level to hold. First resistance is 9268-9284, and then 9380-9400. The S&P (second chart) held critical support at 1052, and broke above resistance at 1075. First resistance is 1085-1086 and then 1100. First support is 1074-1080. The Nasdaq (third chart) closed right below its old bearish engulfing candlestick at 1752-1755; if it can clear that level, the index could head as high as 1817-1828. First support is 1715-1720.

Special report: For a free introduction to technical chart patterns and an overview of last year’s action in the stock market, visit,1785,2571_500051,00.html.

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