Microsoft Upgrade Caps Strong Month for Stocks

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) led the tech sector higher on Tuesday, capping the best month for stocks since 2002.

Microsoft shares gained 5% after Davenport & Co. upgraded the stock, citing improving PC demand in the U.S., China and Japan, the potential for inventory restocking in Europe, and the upcoming release of Windows 7.

The Nasdaq ended the day 1.8% higher — but off its best levels after a bout of late selling — and up nearly 11% for the month.

Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) was another big winner, up 10% on a UBS upgrade, and Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) and Micron (NYSE: MU) also posted solid gains. Micron and Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) will report quarterly results after the close on Thursday.

But the tech sector produced few other big movers on the day. Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) and Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) rose 2% or more, while HP (NYSE: HPQ), Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) and Juniper (NASDAQ: JNPR) closed down slightly.

The Wall Street Journal reported that HP is considering using Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android for some of its netbooks instead of Windows. Googled finished with a 1.6% gain.

The Nasdaq rose 26 to 1528, the S&P 500 climbed 10 to 797, and the Dow gained 86 to 7608. Volume rose to 6.99 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.22 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 28-9 margin on the NYSE, and 19-9 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 77% on the NYSE, and 75% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 7-52 on the NYSE, and 11-22 on the Nasdaq.

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