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Rally recharged
Disappointing jobs report doesn't stem buying; Nasdaq charges higher on strength in chip sector.
February 4, 2005: 6:02 PM EST
By Deshundra Jefferson, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Disappointing economic reports had little effect on stocks Friday, with the market receiving strong support from mostly positive corporate news.

The Dow Jones industrial average (Charts) gained 1.2 percent while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index (up 13.14 to 1,203.03, Charts) rose 1.1 percent. A strong boost from the semiconductor sector helped the Nasdaq composite (up 29.02 to 2,086.66, Charts) advance 1.4 percent.

For the week, the Dow rose 2.8 percent, the S&P added 2.7 percent, and the Nasdaq tacked on 2.5 percent.

"Didn't look like we were going to do much in the beginning because the jobs number came in lower-than-expected and the Michigan number also came in lower," said Donald Selkin, director of research at Joseph Stevens.

"Prudential upgraded the semiconductors and that got the sector going," said Donald Selkin, director of research at Joseph Stevens. "This was the revenge of the nerds. The most beat up, pathetic stocks had one of their up days."

Investors had been anxiously awaiting the January payrolls report, hoping it would give some indication on how the job market would fare this year. The Labor Department reported employers added 146,000 jobs in January, up from a revised 133,000 in December, but well below forecasts of about a 200,000 increase, according to a survey by Briefing.com.

And the University of Michigan's consumer confidence index for January eased to 95.5 from 97.1 in December. Spending fuels some two-thirds of the economy, making confidence reports a closely watched gauge of consumer sentiment.

But at least one market watcher saw an upside to the day's largely disappointing economic news.

"It is obvious that the economy continues to grow and that the job market is growing," said Peter Cardillo, chief market analyst at S.W. Bach. "Today's numbers are offering investors a sense of relief that perhaps the Fed may not have to be too aggressive in raising interest rates."

Friday's movers

A series of brokerage ratings changes swayed the markets Friday.

Prudential upped its rating of the sector to "favorable" from "unfavorable," also lifting its rating on Texas Instruments to "overweight" from "neutral."

Texas Instruments (up $1.67 to $24.80, Research) surged 7 percent, while rival Intel (up $0.62 to $23.00, Research) gained nearly 3 percent. Advanced Micro Devices (up $0.82 to $17.49, Research) received a Prudential upgrade too, lifting its shares nearly 5 percent.

The Philly semiconductor index (up $17.46 to $418.16, Research) advanced more than 4 percent.

Retailing stocks helped support the broader market after Prudential raised its rating of Gap and Ann Taylor Stores to "overweight" from "neutral."

Gap (down $0.03 to $21.39, Research) shares barely budged while Ann Taylor (up $1.06 to $22.91, Research) climbed nearly 5 percent.

Deutsche Securities, meanwhile, slashed its rating of Goodyear Tire (down $1.58 to $14.42, Research) to "sell" from "hold," knocking the stock 10 percent lower.

In other news, tobacco stocks lit up as a federal appeals court rejected the government's attempt to collect $280 billion in past profits from cigarette makers.

Among the bigger names, Dow component Altria (up $3.26 to $67.00, Research) jumped 5 percent while Reynolds American (up $3.69 to $85.60, Research) tacked on well over 4 percent.

Time Warner, CNN/Money's parent company, posted a fourth-quarter profit that blew past consensus estimates. The world's largest media company, however, cautioned that growth would slow in 2005. Time Warner (down $0.12 to $18.04, Research) shares were little changed.

DoubleClick (down $0.57 to $7.52, Research) tumbled 7 percent a day after the online marketing company said its first-quarter earnings may come in at the low end of Wall Street's forecasts.

And Cardinal Health (down $1.91 to $58.18, Research) lost more than 3 percent after announcing that Controller Gary Jensen has resigned and the health services firm has taken disciplinary action against an undisclosed number of employees in connection with an accounting probe.

Market breadth was positive. On the New York Stock Exchange, winners topped losers by a 13 to 4 margin as 1.64 billion shares changed hands. On the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners by 2 to 1 on volume of 1.92 billion shares.

Treasuries rallied after the report as traders bet on less inflation and less upward pressure on interest rates, driving the yield for the benchmark 10-year note to 4.08 percent from 4.16 percent late Thursday. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices halted their recent slide. Light crude for March delivery added 3 cents to $46.48 barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude rose 5 cents to $43.90.

Elsewhere in the commodities, COMEX gold fell $2.60 to $415.90 an ounce.

The dollar was mixed, edging higher versus the euro but falling slightly against the yen.

Asian-Pacific stocks ended mixed, with Tokyo's Nikkei lagging behind the rest of the region. Major European indexes finished higher, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst striking a 2-1/2 year high. (Click here for more on world markets).  Top of page


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