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Volatile day ends with blue-chips on the up (but down on the week)

In the time it takes to read this report, the market will likely have changed direction again

Bull
The bulls were back, in bargain-hunting mood
  • Dow Jones up 330 at 24,191

  • S&P 500 up 39 at 2,620

  • Nvidia receuives turbo-boost from broker reaction to its results

After an up-and-down day, US stocks ended the week on an upbeat note.

The Dow Jones index rallied to 24,191, up 330 points on the day while the S&P 500 closed at 2,620, up 39.

The big blue-chip winners on Friday were Mattel Inc (NASDAQ:MAT) and Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA).

Toys and games maker Mattel rose 7.9% to US$17.27, clawing back some of Thursday's heavy losses; the stock has been in the dog-house since last Friday's disappointing announcement.

Nvidia advanced 6.7% to US$232.08 on the back of a favorable reception to its results announcement last night.

Broker B Riley lifted its price target from US$270 to US$290 and Mizuho Securities cracked its target up US$25 to US$265.

Also on the honors list on Friday were Nike Inc (NYSE:NIKE), up 4.8%; American Express Company (NYSE:AXP), up 3.8%; and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), up 3.7%.

Across the border, Canada's S&P TSX Composite climbed 31 points to 15,034.53.

Mid-session: Blue-chips more or less back to square one

US blue-chips' attempt at a rally fizzled out but the bulls were making another recovery attempt in lunchtime trading.

Having risen as high as 24,209 at one point, the Dow Jones index tumbled to 23,360 before recovering to 23,829, down 32 points.

The S&P 500 was equally volatile, rising as high as 2,619.5 and falling as low as 2,533 before more or less recovering to last night's closing level of 2,581.

On the NYSE, Wesco Aircraft Holdings Inc (NYSE:WAIR) was the top performer, rising a third after it published well-received first-fiscal quarter earnings after the close of trading last night.

The supply chain specialist posted underlying earnings per share of 15 cents on the back of a 7.0% year-on-year increase in net sales to US$353.1mln.

Open: Stocks attempt to rally

After yesterday's major market correction, buyers were back in force on Friday after law-makers approved a new funding bill in the early hours today.

The funding will see the government through to March 23 and increase spending limits for two years, ending a showdown that came into effect overnight. 

The Dow Jones index was up 231 points at 24,092 while the S&P 500 was 30 points better at 2,611.

Information technology company Unisys Corporation (NYSE:UIS) was one of the bigger risers in early trades after its fourth quarter earnings topped estimates.

Adjusted earnings of US$1.75 per share were up from 60 cents a year earlier and miles higher than the 18 cents expected by the market.

Pre-open

Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) is reportedly mulling a move into offering delivery services for businesses.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the online giant is considering offering a service to rival those offered by the likes of United Parcel Service Inc (NYSE:UPS) and FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX).

The story sent the share prices of both UPS and FedEx down by around 3.5% in pre-market trading.

READ Amazon to launch business delivery service to rival FedEx and UPS

Bid target Qualcomm Inc (NASDAQ:QCOM) was set to open a shade higher at US$62.70 after its board rejected the latest – and final – offer from rival Broadcom Ltd (NASDAQ:AVGO).

READ Broadcom raises offer for rival Qualcomm to US$82 a share

The merger may not be totally dead, however, as Qualcomm has said it is willing to sit down with the board of Broadcom and talk about what it considers a more accurate valuation of Qualcomm's stock.

A late opening to the tax season was blamed by accountancy software specialist Intuit Inc (NASDAQ:INTU) for the company lowering guidance for the second quarter of its fiscal year.

The company expects tax revenue to shift to the third fiscal quarter, and therefore reiterated full fiscal-year revenue and operating income guidance.

“Every tax year is different and this year is no exception with the IRS opening its doors six calendar days later than last year,” said Dan Wernikoff, executive vice president and general manager of Intuit’s TurboTax business.

“Beyond this timing creating a late forming tax season, we are confident in our plan, combining our intuitive DIY offer for those with simple returns and our TurboTax Live offer for those that want some assistance,” he added.

The company revised down its second-quarter guidance for revenue from US$1.16bn-US$1.18bn to US$1.16bn – US$1.165bn.

On the plus side, the group now expects underlying earnings to be somewhere in the 34 to 35 cents range, up from previous guidance of 31 to 34 cents.

The shares were trading 0.9% lower at US$151.40 in pre-market trading on a day when the market was expected to bounce back sharply after yesterday's shake-out.

Spread betting quotes indicated the Dow Jones industrial average would open at around 24,112 after crashing 1,033 points on Thursday.

The broader-based S&P 500 was expected to open at 2,612.5 after falling 101 points yesterday.

“US benchmark share indices falling into correction territory (down over 10% from record highs) has ignited concern the bull market has ended. There has been a spike in volatility, which has resulted in a blow-up in low-volatility strategies and a sharp dive in negatively correlated US index ETFs. The question is whether this is the technical trigger for wider market contagion or just a long overdue 'healthy' pull-back for an over-extended market,” said Jasper Lawler, head of research at spread-betting firm London Capital Group.

“We would make the point that the stock market can deviate massively from economic fundamentals in the short term. Fear of rising bond yields can easily produce a bear market (down 20% from 52-week highs) despite a healthy global economy. In fact, that is usually how it happens because the stock market is a future-discounting mechanism. Another argument for a bigger move lower is that much of what has helped keep the stock market moving higher is momentum, which is now reversing. We would liken the outlook for the US stock market to making a tackle in sports, 'the bigger they are the harder they fall',” Lawler said.'

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