Stocks Fall Despite Strong Earnings

Better than expected results from a number of top technology names boosted stocks in the early going Friday, but sellers soon took over to send the market sharply lower.

Despite extreme volatility, Wall Street managed to finish the week with small gains in the Dow and S&P and just a 0.6% loss in the Nasdaq, as the Federal Reserve’s biggest emergency rate cut since 1982 saved stocks from much steeper losses.

Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Juniper Networks and Broadcom were among the names posting better than expected results late Thursday.

All opened sharply higher Friday morning but ended the day mixed, with Microsoft and Juniper lower and Sun and Broadcom posting small gains.

The selling started as the S&P 500 neared the 1370 level, the bottom of a 15-month trading range the index broke down out of last week, as traders began lowering their expectations for more rate cuts when the Federal Reserve meets next week. Expectations are for a one-quarter to one-half point rate cut, less than this week’s three-quarter point emergency rate cut.

E*Trade was a big gainer, up 8% on a restructuring plan, and Microchip Technology and Compuware were higher on their results. InsWeb jumped 29% after finishing its first year of profitability.

Motorola rallied 6% despite an S&P credit rating cut, as the company rebounded from an 18% drubbing earlier this week.

Synaptics, PMC-Sierra and Integrated Devices fell on their results.

The Nasdaq lost 34 to 2336, the S&P fell 21 to 1330, and the Dow tumbled 171 to 12,207. Volume declined to 4.92 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.65 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a 19-14 margin on the NYSE, and 16-14 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 73% on the NYSE, and 72% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 21-84 on the NYSE, and 42-114 on the Nasdaq.

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