Sun, VMware Send Tech Stocks Higher

Information technology was the only S&P sector to post a gain in the first quarter, and IT stocks started the second quarter in similar fashion, led by Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) and VMware (NYSE: VMW).

VMware shares soared 10% on a Goldman Sachs buy rating, while Sun gained 9% a day after announcing 1,500 layoffs as investors await word of a possible merger with IBM (NYSE: IBM).

Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) was up 5.8% after launching a BlackBerry app store a day ahead of its earnings report. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) gained about 3% each as the CTIA Wireless Expo gets under way, and eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) was up more than 4% on Blackberry and iPhone Skype plans.

Micron (NYSE: MU) will also report quarterly results Thursday night.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) added another 5% on turnaround hopes.

SGI (NASDAQ: SGIC) plunged 56% on a bankruptcy and takeover by Rackable (NASDAQ: RACK).

JDSU (NASDAQ: JDSU) was a big winner, up 15%, and Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Juniper (NASDAQ: JNPR) gained more than 4% each.

Qwest (NYSE: Q) was up 9% on reports that it could sell its long-haul network. Sprint (NYSE: S) gained 11% on a cable services plan, and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) was up more than 3%.

The market started the day lower on an ADP employment report that was weaker than expected, then rebounded on better than expected manufacturing and housing data, and even auto sales that weren’t as bad as feared. Thursday could see changes to “mark-to-market” accounting rules that have dogged financial companies, while Friday’s big news will be the government’s monthly jobs report.

The Nasdaq rose 23 to 1551, the S&P 500 climbed 13 to 811, and the Dow gained 152 to 7761. Volume rose to 7.09 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.31 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 27-9 margin on the NYSE, and 18-9 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 83% on the NYSE, and 72% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 8-54 on the NYSE, and 11-31 on the Nasdaq.

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