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After a slow start, the major indexes rallied Thursday to post the first gains on Wall Street in a week, buoyed by a report indicating that the rate of layoffs might be stabilizing. The bullish atmosphere also was encouraged by portfolio managers looking to refine their portfolios as the quarter ends. Wednesday's quarter-point interest-rate cut didn't hurt, either.
Still, the looming earnings procession may have prevented a larger movement upward. Calling Thursday a "directionless day" of trading, Michael Palazzi, managing director of equity trading at SG Cowen Securities, told the Associated Press, "Investors are looking forward to the end of the quarter and dreading the pre-announcement season," when companies issue warnings that their earnings may not meet expectations.
Tech bellwethers, hardest hit by the drop-off earlier in the week, were among the day's winners, with Intel up 59 cents, to $20.63, and IBM up $1.86, to $84.35. The Nasdaq-100 tracking stock, which can indicate how tech shares are selling, was up 70 cents, or 2.37%, to $30.22, with 79 million shares trading hands.
All this helped provide the tech-laden indexes with the biggest gains. Our InformationWeek 100 rose 3.16 points, or 1.3%, to 246.74, and the Nasdaq rose 31.35 points, or nearly 2%, to close at 1,634.01. Meanwhile, the Dow rose 67.51 points, or 0.8%, to 9,079.04, and the S&P 500 rose 10.5 points, or 1.1%, to close at 985.82.