U.S. stocks turned slightly higher shortly after the open Monday, as the technology sector rose firmly following several broker upgrades ahead of earnings season. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 5 points to 10,203 led by a 1.7% gain in shares of Microsoft and a 1.4% gain in Hewlett-Packard. The S&P 500 index gained 50 cents to 1,078, led by a 0.9% advance in the tech sector. The Nasdaq Composite rose 12 points to 2,208. The upgrades in the tech sector include Sandisk, Amazon, Marvell, Yahoo, Qualcomm, Altera, EMC, Microsoift, and Research in Motion. All are higher. Sandisk is up 6%. Intel is up 1.5% ahead of earnings tomorrow. Google and Apple are higher as well. The financials are quiet ahead of earnings this week from Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan, and GE. Paychex is modestly lower as the CEO steps down. In the commodity space, BP is jumping 5% on optimism the oil spill will be capped soon. There are also rumors Exxon is looking in to acquiring the troubled oil giant. Trina Solar is higher on an upgrade. The rest of the commodities are lower this morning. In the transportation space, FedEx and UPS are modestly higher on upgrades. After the first hour the averages remain in the green, but not by much. Most investors are awaiting the earnings later in the week. Through the morning the averages drifted back into the red. Apple is lower after Consumer Reports stated they could not recommend the new iphone due to poor reception. The diamond of the day goes to Playboy, up 38% after agreeing to go private. In the afternoon the averages drifted back up to the unchanged level. Most investors remain on the sidelines ahead of earnings tonight and tomorrow. In the last hour the averages were able to rally into the green, continuing the rally from last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 18 points at 10,216, with 21 of its 30 components finishing higher. The S&P 500 index inched up 79 cents to end at 1,078, with the technology sector, up 0.7%, offsetting a 1% drop in the smaller materials sector. The Nasdaq Composite gained 2 points to 2,198.
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