Solid Tech Earnings Cap Tough Day for Stocks

The stock market had another rough day on Thursday, but earnings reports after the close from technology bellwethers weren’t as bad as feared.

Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) met earnings estimates while missing sales forecasts, but analysts were upbeat about the results given the difficult currency environment the company faced. Sales of $5.61 billion were up 6%, but below $5.84 billion estimates.

Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) met lowered estimates — but then issued a much better than expected sales forecast for the current quarter. The company said it is having trouble meeting Storm demand.

Also after the close, Accenture (NYSE: ACN) beat estimates but lowered its sales outlook, while Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) posted a much wider than expected loss.

Oracle and Accenture edged higher after hours on their results, RIM was unchanged, and Palm shares tumbled 10%.

The major stock indexes fell 2% during the day after S&P lowered GE’s (NYSE: GE) credit outlook, and tumbling oil prices also weighed on the market.

The chip sector fell more than 5% after at least three analysts piled on the struggling sector. Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA), Broadcom (NASDAQ: BRCM), Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) and Applied Materials (NASDAQ: AMAT) were among the names ending the day sharply lower.

But Micron (NYSE: MU) bucked the downtrend, soaring 20% despite Morgan Stanley cutting estimates on the company. Micron will report its quarterly results next week.

Take-Two (NASDAQ: TTWO) tumbled after lowering its outlook, and Silicon Image (NASDAQ: SIMG) plunged 23% on a Jefferies & Co. downgrade.

The Nasdaq lost 26 to 1552, the S&P lost 19 to 885, and the Dow plunged 219 to 8605. Volume rose to 6.32 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.09 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a 22-15 margin on the NYSE, and 17-10 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 76% on the NYSE, and 76% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 24-85 on the NYSE, and 10-78 on the Nasdaq.

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