Friday, January 19, 2007

Markets End Week Meekly

As the short week drew to a close, the markets exhibited signs of life, but barely. Mixed signals from corporate earnings, economic reports and political tensions kept movement to a minimum. The Dow dropped a scant 2.40 points, while the Nasdaq ended its recent losing streak by adding 8.10.

The upside in tech was despite Motorola's (MOT) dismal earnings - 25 cents per share vs. 47 cents a year ago - as deals on popular cell phones continued to whittle away at margins. Gross income was 17% above last year's figures.

The company announced shortly after its earnings release that it would cut 5% of its workforce - about 3500 jobs - and investors cheered, boosting the stock by half a point.

General Electric (GE), a Dow component, also reported 4th quarter results prior to the market open, and delivered a healthy 64 cents per share, more than double last year's 30 cents. The bad news, which sent GE's shares down nearly a point, was that it was restating earnings from 2001 though the 3rd quarter of 2006, due to interest rate swaps in its commercial paper operations.

With just 8 trading days remaining in January, the Dow is 102 points to the positive for 2007, keeping alive hopes for a winning January and setting the tone for the year. It's amazing how many analysts and brokers are guided by the January effect and will follow their nose dependent solely on how the markets perform in just the first month of the year.

The Nasdaq may be a closer call, though today's close puts it 36 points over last year's finish. Further weakness from the likes of Yahoo or eBay, both of which announce results next week, could spawn more selling in tech.

Google announces on January 31, after the close. Amazon reports on February 1.

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