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2/27/2004
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TECH STOCKS: A Whole Lot Of Very Little Happening

The Nasdaq finished lower for the month, the first time it's done so since September.

News that the U.S. economy grew at a faster rate than expected in the fourth quarter of 2003 didn't provide much of a boost to stock markets Friday. Our indexes closed February mixed, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq finished lower for the month, the first time it's done so since September.

Growth of the gross domestic product during the final quarter was revised, from 4% to 4.1%, despite predictions by economists that growth would be closer to 3.7%. That still marked a decline from the torrid-yet-unsustainable 8.2% growth rate recorded in the third quarter.

Other stats released Friday painted a mixed picture of the economy. A consumer-sentiment index from the University of Michigan for February was revised upward to 94.4 from an initial 93.1, but was still down significantly from 103.8 in January. The Chicago purchasing managers index in February was down to 63.6 from 65.9 in January.

Some technology companies had a good day Friday. Sun Microsystems' stock was up nearly 2% after the company said server shipments increased 21.3% in the fourth quarter versus a year earlier. Autodesk shares surged more than 10% when fourth-quarter sales and earnings exceeded expectations. Semiconductor stocks were generally weak, though, led by Novellus Systems, whose stock dropped 2.4% on a disappointing sales forecast.

The Nasdaq-100 tracking stock closed at $36.54, down 13 cents or 0.4%, on healthy trading volume of more than 90 million shares.

Our InformationWeek 100 index rose 0.66 of a point, or 0.2%, Friday to close at 329.14, but that gain couldn't make up the week's losses that left the index off by 0.14%. The Nasdaq fell 2.75 points, or 0.14%, Friday to close at 2,029.82, down 0.4% for the week. The Dow rose 3.78 points, or 0.04%, Friday to close at 10,583.92, while the S&P 500 rose 0.03 of a point to finish the day at 1,144.94.

See the full listing of all the companies in the InformationWeek 100 and the top 5 percentage winners and losers for the last closing at informationweek.com/stocks.

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