TECH STOCKS: Consumer Sentiment Sends Stocks Sliding

The markets ended the week on a down note after an unexpectedly low reading on the University of Michigan's consumer-sentiment index.
Stocks closed the week on a low note after an unexpectedly negative reading of consumer sentiment, offsetting an initial rally spurred by a positive earnings report from Dell.

The University of Michigan said Friday that its consumer-sentiment index, which measures consumers' outlook on the economy, fell to a reading of 93.1 in February, from 103.8 in January. Wall Street economists had expected a smaller decline, to 103.1.

The reading took its toll on stocks. The InformationWeek 100 fell 3.47 points, just over 1%, to 334.61, up 0.6% for the week. The Dow Jones industrials fell 66.22 points, or 0.6%, to close at 10,627.85, up 0.3% for the week. The Nasdaq composite index fell 22.05 points, or nearly 1%, to close at 2,053.55, down 0.5% for the week. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 6.3 points, or 0.6%, to close at 1,145.81, though it gained 0.3% this week. The Nasdaq-100 tracking stock fell 31 cents to $36.94 and ended the week down 0.5%.

The Michigan report offset an early rise in stock prices sparked by Dell's report Thursday of a 24% gain in fourth-quarter profits. Dell executives said businesses are growing and that they're seeing an increase in companies' IT spending.

Intel shares slipped nearly 2% after Bank of America cut its earnings and revenue forecast for the chipmaker on expectations of weak PC demand. Merck and Hewlett-Packard were the Dow's biggest gainers, and Walt Disney the index's biggest loser after a run-up in the price of Disney shares triggered by Comcast's takeover bid for the company.

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