Stocks Escape Financial Fallout

Stocks managed to rise Thursday despite another day of worries about the solvency of Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) and Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM).

Despite steep drops in the two, investors appeared to conclude that a government bailout would be likely if the mortgage giants faltered. A blockbuster merger between Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW) and Rohm and Haas (NYSE: ROH) also helped buoy investors’ spirits.

But earnings season will begin in earnest on Friday, when GE (NYSE: GE) — a big disappointment for the market last quarter — will reports its results.

Chip stocks were big winners, thanks to a Bank of America upgrade of the chip equipment sector. Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) gained 4%, Cypress (NYSE: CY) jumped 7% on a solar deal, and TriQuint (NASDAQ: TQNT) fell 9% on a warning.

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) bounced 2.5% after a Citi Investment analyst said Wednesday’s sell-off was overdone.

Excel Technology (NASDAQ: XLTC) soared 36% on a buyout deal with GSI Group (NASDAQ: GSIG).

Intermec (NYSE: IN) fell 20% on a warning.

The Nasdaq rose 23 to 2257, the S&P gained 8 to 1253, and the Dow rose 81 to 11,229. Volume rose to 5.86 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.31 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 17-16 margin on the NYSE, and 15-12 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 46% on the NYSE, and 68% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 26-472 on the NYSE, and 29-329 on the Nasdaq.

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