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IanHummel 12-21-2007 03:48 PM

Stocks Soar on Blackberry's Strength
The Dow is up more than 160 points on big earnings from Research in Motion and hopes Merrill Lynch will get $5 billion in new capital from Singapore. Consumer spending is better than expected in November. Chrysler faces a cash crunch already. Campbell Soup sells Godiva.

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December 21, 2007 -- 15:30 ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The Stock Market is trading at its intraday high as we head into the final half hour of the trading week. It has been a rollercoaster trading week, but the major indices are set to finish with decent gains.

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Stocks shot higher right off the open this morning, thanks to big earnings from Research in Motion (RIMM, news, msgs), the maker of the BlackBerry mobile device, and a report that Merrill Lynch (MER, news, msgs) is raising $5 billion in new capital from an investment arm of the government Singapore.

At 2:00 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrials were up 167 points, or 1.3%, to 13,412. The Nasdaq Composite Index surged 37 points, or 1.4%, to 2,678, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up nearly 18 points, or 1.3%, to 1,478.

Also pushing shares higher was "quadruple witching day" -- the quarterly expiration of stock options, index options, index futures and single-stock futures. The expirations typically increase volume and volatility as traders decide what to do with their positions.

Meanwhile, the government reported that personal consumption climbed by 1.1% in November, a sign the economy might not be as weak as feared.

All week long, a number of analysts have suggested a short-term bottom for the market was forming with the possibility of sharp upturn. A signal a big rally was coming came Thursday when the tech stocks pushed the Nasdaq up nearly 40 points to 2,641. With today's rally, the Nasdaq has jumped nearly 4% in the last four days.

Twenty-nine of the 30 Dow stocks were higher this afternoon, along with 413 S&P 500 stocks and 70 stocks in the Nasdaq-100 Index. The index was up 1.3% to 2,097.31.

While Research in Motion was the day's star, jumping nearly 12% to $119.61, Walgreen (WAG, news, msgs) was the S&P 500 winner, up 7% to $38.80 because of better-than-expected first-quarter earnings. Circuit City (CC, news, msgs) was the loser, down 25% to $4.97 after reporting a much larger loss than analysts expected in its third quarter. The electronics retailer also forecast a pretax loss for the fourth quarter.

AT&T (T, news, msgs) led the Dow with a 2.4% gain to $41.24.

Markets will close early on Monday and will be closed Tuesday for Christmas. Regular trading resumes Wednesday.

Research in Motion boosts tech shares
Research in Motion shares easily led the Nasdaq-100 today after reporting late Thursday that third-quarter profit and sales doubled.

Analysts at Bear Stearns and Raymond James upgraded the stock.

Video: BlackBerry's blowout earnings

Research in Motion's report boosted wireless and tech shares broadly, giving Wall Street hope that the technology sector has further to climb and that consumers and businesses are still spending.

Nokia (NOK, news, msgs) jumped 3% to $38.77. Even Motorola (MOT, news, msgs) was up -- nearly 0.5% to $16.20. Apple (AAPL, news, msgs) added 2.6% to $191.98.

Among other tech shares, Intel (INTC, news, msgs) was up 1.4% to $26.78, Google (GOOG, news, msgs) rose 1% to $696.47, and Microsoft (MSFT, news, msgs) was up 1.1% to $35.92. (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)

At the BlackBerry maker, revenue growth was due mainly to new products and shipments of 3.9 million units that beat Wall Street estimates of 3.85 million, noted Raymond James analyst Sera Kim, who also raised her price target to $140 from $110.

BlackBerry products moved especially fast on "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, Kim wrote in a client note.

Stock Charts (Year)
Research in Motion

Merrill Lynch
"Deeper penetration into the retail channels, the introduction of lower-priced data plans by more carriers and various back-to-school and U.S. Thanksgiving/holiday promotions also aided sales," Kim said.

Kim warned, however, that the fourth-quarter results may be down as the holiday shopping season wanes.

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