The People's Bank of China surprised global markets with the first cut to its benchmark lending rate in two years and ECB President Draghi implied in remarks he made that more stimulus is needed to arrest disinflationary forces in the eurozone. With those thoughts in mind, it will perhaps come as little surprise to hear that the stock market strung together another winning session on Friday
The indices did fade from their opening highs, yet if one is long the stock market, a gain is still better than no gain. Including Friday's 0.5% advance, the S&P 500 is up 13.3% from its October low, demonstrating that the last five weeks have been very good for anyone who is long the stock market.
On Friday, the S&P 500 information technology sector was a quiet participant in the advance. It trailed the market with a 0.2% gain that was held in check by losses in Intel (INTC 35.59, -0.63) and Microsoft (MSFT 47.98, -0.72), both of which came on the back of cautious analyst remarks
In the case of Intel, which surged 4.7% on Thursday, it fell 1.0% after the analyst at Credit Agricole went against the grain and downgraded the stock to Sell from Underperform. That move seemed to overshadow RBC Capital Markets, Cowen, FBR Capital, and Stifel all raising their price targets for Intel, so it could very well have been a case of profit-taking activity after a big run in Intel's stock that clearly went against the grain of Credit Agricole's prior Underperform rating. Entering Friday's trading, INTC was up 38% for the year.
eBay (EBAY 54.42, -0.12) was another company that drew a Sell rating. That came courtesy of Evercore ISI, which previously had a Hold rating on the stock.
Jefferies, meanwhile, put a lid on Microsoft's stock after initiating coverage with an Underperform rating and $40 price target. The firm also tagged Symantec (SYMC 25.33, -0.07) and Salesforce.com (CRM 58.19, -0.12) with Underperform ratings as part of new coverage on a host of technology issues that included Buy ratings for Adobe Systems (ADBE 71.32, +0.88), CA Technologies (CA 30.63, +0.53), and Intuit (INTU 91.72, +0.99).
The timing on Intuit was good as it reported better than expected fiscal first quarter earnings results after Thursday's close while reaffirming its outlook for FY15.
Fellow software company Autodesk (ADSK 61.95, +3.54), however, stole the reporting show with better than expected third quarter results and fourth quarter revenue guidance. For good measure, Autodesk also raised its outlook for billings growth to 15-17%, up from 10-12%, and net subscription additions to 325-375K, up from 200-250K.
ADSK jumped 6.1% and was the sector's biggest percentage gainer on Friday. Microsoft scored the title of biggest percentage loser with its 1.5% decline.
Overall, the vast majority of sector components logged a gain on Friday. Only 14 of the sector's 66 components traded lower. Apple (AAPL 116.47, +0.16) was not among them, although it did trail both the sector and the market with a 0.1% gain.
Elsewhere, several of the Chinese Internet stocks benefited from the enthusiasm over the rate cut in China. Alibaba (BABA 110.73, +0.91), which successfully carried out a hugely oversubscribed $8.0 billion senior unsecured notes offering, was one of the luminaries moving higher and was joined by the likes of Baidu (BIDU 245.30, +6.91), Qihoo 360 Technology (QIHU 69.36, +1.81), and SINA Corp. (SINA 38.31, +0.59). Dangdang (DANG 12.38, -0.26) was one of the conspicuous laggards, falling 2.1% in Friday's trading.
For the week, the S&P 500 information technology sector gained 0.4%, leaving it up 2.9% for the month and 17.9% for the year.
(Disclosure: Briefing.com has a business relationship with Microsoft)
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