Momentum Into Monday?

A weak batch of economic numbers Thursday raised hopes for a potential
inter-meeting rate cut, and that helped stocks finish the week on a positive
note with the Nasdaq up 3.3%, the Dow up 1.1%, and the S&P 500 up 1.5%.

What impressed traders was the Nasdaq’s ability to finish strong near its
highs of the day and notch its fourth straight positive day.

Volume remained fairly strong despite the fact many traders and market
participants were headed out early for the holiday weekend. Nasdaq volume was
1.90 billion while NYSE volume came in at 1.08 billion.

Increasing signs of economic weakness were apparent in March’s retail sales
number, which decreased 0.2% after analysts had expected a flat reading.

The PPI fell 0.1% which was below the 0.1% increase analysts had expected
while the core rate increased the as-expected 0.1%. With the low PPI, the Fed
can be less concerned with inflationary pressures should they decide to lower
rates again.

New jobless claims increased 9000 to 392,000 which left the recent up-trend
intact and further supported the case for a Fed easing.

“I think that this back-and-fill process after we’ve kind of appeared to
find a bottom is pretty much the tug of war between fundamentals getting worse
and sellers getting tired,” said Greg Parise, General Partner, Dorado
Capital Management.

“You still have companies coming in and either just making numbers and
leading guidance down to negative. You have companies still missing, and you
have a market that psychologically wants to think that March 22 was the bottom.
I think we will have the ability to trade this market to the upside for the next
4 to 6 weeks,” he added.

According to preliminary numbers, the Nasdaq gained 62.51 to 1961.46, the Dow
added 113.47 to 10,126.94, and the S&P 500 rose 17.61 to 1183.50.

Top sectors were biotechs, up 6.7%, semiconductors, up 5.9%, and Internets,
up 5.0%. On the weak side was the retail group, down 0.5%.

In earnings news, Juniper Networks
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soared 7.71 or 18% to 50.47
after announcing first quarter earnings of 25 cents per share which matched
analyst expectations. Juniper traded on heavy volume of 66 million shares which
is more than two-and-a-half times its daily average.

Additional tech winners included Ciena
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, up 14.4%, Mercury
Interactive
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, up 12.2%, JDS Uniphase
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, up 11.8%, and PMC
Sierra
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, up 7.5%.

One big biotech jumper was Myriad Genetics
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which soared 6.25 or
or 16% to  45.50 on heavier-than-average volume.

Dow winners included Honeywell
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, up 4.4%, Caterpillar
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, up
4.1%, and Microsoft
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, up 3.5%.

Dow losers were Wal-Mart
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, down 1.0%, and IBM
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, down 1.3%.

Looking ahead, markets are closed for the Easter holiday, but banks will
remain open. There was even some talk of a potential rate cut taking place
Friday since banks are going to be open.