By Rex Crum
Technology stocks put in a strong trading performance Friday as several sector leaders advanced and turned their backs on initial uncertainty from the latest job-loss and unemployment figures.
Among leading tech stocks, gains came from Dell Inc. (DELL), Apple Inc. (AAPL), Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), IBM Corp. (IBM) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) all held on to small gains.
The Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) retreated early, but recovered to end the day with a gain of 17 points to close at 2,317. The Morgan Stanley High Tech 35 Index (MSH) recorded a small gain and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) climbed 1.5%.
The overall market rose despite some early concerns about Labor Department figures that showed 85,000 non-farm jobs were lost in December. The official unemployment rate in the U.S. remained at 10%.
Semiconductor equipment maker Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) rose by 54 cents a share, or almost 4%, to $14.55. Needham & Co. analysts Edwin Mok raised his rating on Applied to by from hold, saying that the company is in a better position than other "pure play" semiconductor equipment makers to deliver growth this year.
Google Inc. (GOOG) shares rose $7.92 to $602.02. Late Thursday, it was reported that Google has applied with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to get permission to buy and sell power in bulk amounts. The move could put Google in the electricity-trading market.
One big decliner was Lawson Software Inc. (LWSN), which fell 60 cents a share, or 8.6%, to $6.39. On Thursday, the business-software maker reported a 9% drop in its second-quarter earnings and gave a weaker-than-expected for its fiscal third quarter.
Lawson expects to earn 7 to 9 cents a share on revenue in a range of $174 million to $178 million, while analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast the company to earn 10 cents a share on $175 million in sales for its third quarter.