Political, Economic News Roil Market

It was mixed day of trading Wednesday as the three major U.S. stock indexes started strong, sputtered in midday and rallied in the afternoon.

In the end, though, the tech-heavy Nasdaq was unable to sustain upward momentum, finishing at 2115, down 1 point, or 0.05 percent. The Dow Jones retained enough of its afternoon ascent to wrap up trading at 10473, a gain of 17 points, or 0.2 percent, while the S&P 500 finished at 1217, up 1 point or 0.1 percent.

Much of the interesting action in the tech sector occurred after the trading bell. Research in Motion Ltd. , maker of the popular BlackBerry wireless device, saw shares drop in after-hours trading after reporting second-quarter net earnings of $111 million, or 56 cents a share, an increase of 57% from $70.6 million, or 36 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted net income of 61 cents a share met analyst expectations, but RIMM forecast Q3 net profit of 62 cents to 68 cents a share, versus street predictions of 66 cents a share. During regular trading hours, RIMM fell 18 cents to $77.25.

Open source software maker Red Hat Inc. after hours Wednesday reported Q2 net earnings of $16.7 million, or 9 cents a share, up 42 percent from $11.8 million, or 6 cents a share, in Q2 2004. Revenue was $65.7 million. Analysts had expected revenue of $65 million and per-share earnings of 7 cents. RHAT was down 42 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $16.51 during Wednesday session trading.

Wednesday’s volatility may have been a market reaction to the indictment by a Texas grand jury of House Majority leader Thomas Delay, who is being charged with conspiring to violate campaign election laws.

Online search leader Google fell $7.94, or 2.5 percent, to $306 per share in Wednesday trading. Software giant Microsoft gained 33 cents, or 1.3 percent, to close at $25.67. Networking equipment maker Cisco Systems climbed 20 cents, or 1 percent, to $17.92, while Internet auction company eBay dipped 18 cents, or 0.5 percent, to end at $38.93.

In other economic news Wednesday, the Commerce Department announced that durable goods orders rose 3.3 percent in August, exceeding predictions by economists of a 0.7 percent hike. Durable goods orders fell 5.3 percent in July.

Editor’s note: There will be no technical analysis today.

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