Despite some caution about the fortunes of BlackBerry, Facebook and Apple, solid financial results from tech vendors coupled with positive reports about the economy are boosting confidence in IT, with share prices of computer, consumer electronics and Internet companies rising this week.
A rising tide seems to be lifting most, though not all, boats in the tech sector. The Nasdaq computer index closed Friday at 1586.15, up by more than 18 points, as all major U.S. exchanges rose on upbeat economic data. U.S. employers added 157,000 jobs in January, and added an average of 181,000 jobs a month during 2012, according to updated figures released Friday by the Labor Department. The revised figure is better than the 153,000 jobs added per month that was previously reported.
The new figures fueled gains Friday for all major U.S. exchanges and indexes, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor's 500 indexes had their best January since the 1990s. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 14,009.79 Friday, which was the first time it topped 14,000 since 2007. Good sales numbers from major IT vendors over the past few weeks have played a big part in the general optimism. On Friday shares of tech industry heavyweights including IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, EMC and Google all closed up.
Despite the general optimism, the newly rechristened BlackBerry, which shed its former brand name Research In Motion Wednesday when it launched its new BlackBerry 10 products, has been running into headwinds. The two new devices debuting at the New York event -- the touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 and a handset with a physical keyboard, the BlackBerry Q10 -- were designed essentially from scratch around a new platform based on QNX, an operating system the company acquired in 2010. Though analysts applauded the overhauled BlackBerry 10 platform interface, the company's March launch date for the U.S. disappointed.
"The March date for the US launch is a bad surprise -- announcing a device over a month before launch is never great," said Jan Dawson, chief telecom analyst at Ovum. BlackBerry shares dropped by US$1.88 to $13.78 Wednesday and declined again Thursday before rising with the rest of the market Friday.
Caution also greeted Facebook's earnings announcement Wednesday, even though the social networking company reported a 40 percent year-over- year jump in fourth-quarter revenue, to $1.59 billion. Facebook also posted its first quarterly profit ever, generating net income of $64 million for the quarter. But expenses also rose significantly, causing investors to balk. Facebook shares slumped $0.26 to $30.98 Thursday and continued to decline Friday, to $29.73
Apple also can't seem to catch a break. Shares closed down at $453.62 Friday, well below the company's 52-week high of $705.07. Though the company last week posted an increase in revenue in the fourth quarter, profits were flat as it faced increasing competition from Android-based mobile devices.
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