Stocks Finish Mixed

Blue chips took a tumble while Dell's strong earnings bolstered the tech sector

Stocks finished mixed Friday, after losses from energy, commodity and cyclical issues. Select tech stocks posted gains on the back of a strong earnings report from computer giant Dell's (DELL ).

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 5.31 points, or 0.46%, to 10,154.05. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 5.31 points, or 0.46%, to 1,154.05. The Nasdaq composite index gained 12.92 points, or 0.66%, to 1,976.80.

Crude oil futures recovered from session lows, settling up 13 cents at $48.67 a barrel.

Up ahead next week on the economic calendar: Tuesday brings the producer price index and industrial production numbers for April.

Next week's earnings calendar brings quarterly announcements from Lowe's Companies (LOW ), Agilent Technologies (A ), and Limited Brands (L ) on Monday, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ), Home Depot (HD ), and Staples (SPLS ) on Tuesday, Intuit (INTU ) on Wednesday, and Gap (GPS ) on Thursday. In economic news Friday morning, the University of Michigan sentiment number fell to 85.3 in May, from 87.7 in April. This fell below median expectations.

U.S. business inventories went up 0.4% in March, falling short of expectations, while sales rose by 0.7%. Meanwhile U.S. import prices jumped 0.8% in April, well above the median, while export prices rose only 0.6%.

In earnings news, computer giant Dell (DELL ) announced its quarterly earnings after the close of trading on Thursday. The company posted earnings per share of 37 cents, vs. 28 cents one year earlier, on a 16% rise in revenue. Dell sees second-quarter earnings per share of 37 to 39 cents on a revenue rise of 16% to 18%. The shares moved higher in after-hours trading after posting a slight increase in Thursday's regular session.

Tiffany (TIF ) announced earnings of 27 cents for the first quarter, vs. 25 cents last year, on a 12% rise in net revenues. The high-end jeweler said it sees earnings for 2005 in the $1.45-$1.55 range, on an overall 8%-10% revenue increase. It warned that these earnings may achieve only the lower part of the guidance is same-store sales in Japan fall.

Delphi (DPH ) saw a 74 cent loss for the first quarter, vs. earnings of 9 cents last year. The vehicle electronics maker blamed high commodity costs, low production volumes, and the impact from the inability to record a non-cash deferred tax benefit of U.S. losses.

Graphics card-maker Nvidia (NVDA ) reported earnings of 36 cents per share, vs. 12 cents last year, on a 24% revenue rise. This substantially beat analyst expectations.

Treasury Market

Treasuries rallied as investors sought a safe haven. Uncertainty over the path for the economy and concern over the hedge fund industry supported gains, which coincided with afternoon weakness in equities. The yield on the 10-year note finished lower at 4.12%, a three-month low.

"Even though this week's economic data points toward higher yields," says Michael Wallace, global market strategist for Action Economics, "you have a lot of ancillary explosions going off in other markets -- and that is working its way back into Treasuries [as traders] look for safety."

World Markets

European stocks finished mixed Friday, as oil prices pushed higher overseas. In London, the FTSE 100 was down 6.70 points, or 0.14%, to 4,886.50. Top laggards included BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, and Antofagasta. Old Mutual was sharply lower following news that it might make a bid for Swedish company Skandia.

Germany's DAX index rose 8.65 points, or 0.20%, to 4,275.70. Infineon, Siemens, and Suess MicroTec all posted gains on the back of Dell's strong earnings report. Companies rising on strong earnings reports included Salzgitter and Fuchs Petrolub. Meanwhile, ThyssenKrupp fell on weaker-than-expected earnings.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index gained 2.24 points, or 0.06%, moving to 4,017.89.

Asian markets finished mixed Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 28.83 points, or 0.26%, to 11,049.11, following Wall Street's losses from Thursday. Nippon Oil fell by 2% on weaker oil prices. Konica Minolta also fell after it announced a 7.7% fall in its operating profit. Chipmaker Tokyo Electron rose by 2.2% after reporting strong annual earnings.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 101.47 points, or 0.73%, to close at 13.866.81. The day's losers included Cosco Pacific and Esprit.

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