Midday Report: Tech Optimism Pushes Nasdaq Higher

Optimism about first-quarter results at Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and an analyst recommendation on Motorola (NYSE: MOT) provided a lift to the battered technology sector on Monday.

At midday, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index was up 12.66 at 1,733.02. Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), the most active Nasdaq issue, was up 33 U.S. cents at $13.95.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up 9.42 at 1,137.85, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 84.57 at 9,875.66.

Amazon Sees Smaller Loss

Amazon was up $2.66 at $11.03 after the e-tail giant said its first-quarter operating loss will be smaller than analysts expected.

The company, which will report results for the quarter ended March 31st later this month, said that the loss before extraordinary items will be 22 cents per share or less, smaller than the 35 cents reported for the year-earlier quarter and analyst expectations for a loss of 30 cents.

Electronics operations were particularly strong, said Amazon, while sales growth in the U.S. books, music and video division was “very slight.”

Intel, Motorola Lower

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) was down 93 cents at $22.70 following reports that Lehman Brothers analyst Dan Niles expects this year to be the worst ever for semiconductor makers. Niles is reportedly looking for an 18 to 20 percent revenue decline for the industry.

Motorola, meanwhile, failed to hold onto an early gain sparked by reports that Morgan Stanley Dean Witter upgraded the stock to strong buy from outperform. At midday, Motorola was down 7 cents at $11.43.

Morgan analysts reportedly based their upgrade on the low price of Motorola stock, which has taken a pounding in recent weeks because of a weakening economy and drop in semiconductor demand.

Motorola, which will report quarterly results after the close of trading on Tuesday, denied Friday that it was facing liquidity problems.

Amazon Bolsters E-Commerce Sector

The E-Commerce Times Index was up 2.52 percent at midday, with Amazon’s bullish forecast boosting shares of other e-tailers.

eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) was up $1.44 at $36.94, Drugstore.com (Nasdaq: DSCM) was up 9 cents at 84 cents, and Barnesandnoble.com (Nasdaq: BNBN) was up 19 cents at $1.25.

Buyout News

Buyout news lifted some other e-commerce issues. NBCi (Nasdaq: NBCI) was up 64 cents at $2.14 after parent General Electric (NYSE: GE) said it would buy out its struggling Internet portal. The $138 million deal comes after less than two years of independent operations for NBCi.

Kana Communications (Nasdaq: KANA) was up 5 cents at 88 cents after agreeing to buy fellow customer relationship management software maker Broadbase Software (Nasdaq: BBSW) in a stock swap. Shareholders of Broadbase, up 1 cent at 73 cents, will get 1.05 Kana shares for each of their shares.

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