NetApp Leads Tech Stock Rebound

Stocks overcame a steep decline Thursday on hopes for a mortgage rescue plan, while NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) led the tech sector higher despite reporting an unexpected drop in sales.

NetApp rose 8% despite reporting January quarter revenues that missed estimates. The company also declined to issue an outlook for its quarter ending in April because of the tough economy, but traders were cheered by the storage company’s cost-cutting plans.

It was a rocky day for stocks, as the first rise in retail sales in seven months was offset by worries about another week of high jobless claims, which will likely limit retail sales gains. Also worrying investors was concern that near-term stimulus benefits were cut from the final $790 billion economic stimulus package, pushing the plan’s benefits out to late this year and 2010.

But stock indexes recovered all of a 3% loss late in the day on a Reuters report that the U.S. government may subsidize mortgage payments to help stem foreclosures.

Palm (NASDAQ: PALM), Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) all posted strong gains ahead of next week’s Mobile World Congress.

AsiaInfo (NASDAQ: ASIA) soared 23% on its results, while ComScore (NASDAQ: SCOR) plunged 26% on its earnings report.

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) rose 5% on strong subscriber growth, while AMD (NYSE: AMD) and SanDisk (NASDAQ: SNDK) paced a strong chip sector.

Applied Materials (NASDAQ: AMAT) and Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) slumped on downgrades.

Sirius XM (NASDAQ: SIRI) edged higher on hopes for a rescue.

The Nasdaq rose 11 to 1541, the S&P 500 added 1 to 835, and the Dow slipped 7 to 7932. Volume rose to 6.82 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.48 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a 20-16 margin on the NYSE, and while advancers held a slight edge on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 46% on the NYSE, and 67% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 14-175 on the NYSE, and 7-146 on the Nasdaq.

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