Not a good Friday on Wall Street, but then what else is new?
The Dow is down 100 points, and the Nasdaq off 31 points, to 1,585 after a lousy jobs number (but not as lousy as many thought) and a seller’s run on Apple, Cisco Systems, and on semiconductor stocks.
The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 31.84 points, or 1.97 percent, to 1,585.17. The jobs number, as reported by the U.S. Labor Department, was 524,000, triggering a rise in the unemployment rate to7.2%, a 16-year high.
People – even battle-hardened Wall Street types – are beginning to freak out. "We just keep seeing bad news. That's all we ever see," Ryan Detrick, a senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio, told Reuters on Friday afternoon. "We really have to see the economy, housing show some type of life."
Things have gotten so bad that the Nasdaq has rolled out a new index to cover the growing number of government bailouts. It’s called the OMX Government Relief and its sole purpose is to monitor the performance of companies who have been paid bailout money by Uncle Sam. There are some qualifiers: The OMX will only track, with equal weight, companies of at least $1 billion market cap. So any little banks or auto parts companies probably won’t be covered in the index. Funny thing – the OMX has only been up since January 5, but it’s already down 941 points.
My only beef is with the name – OMX. Couldn’t the Nasdaq be more creative and, as a sign of the times, call it the “BAIL” or the “TANK”? Words have meaning, especially with $700 billion of taxpayer cash on the line.
In other tech news, I discussed Palm earlier this week, noting that it was unveiling a new touch screen smart phone and its new WebOS operating system at the Consumer Electronics Show. Investors must have liked what they saw, because Palm has taken off like a shot this week on Wall Street. By Thursday, shares of Palm stock rose over 34 points, to $4.50 a share. That’s manna from heaven for Palm, which has battled slow sales and a sluggish stock price for the past few months. It’s not easy competing with the iPhone and the Blackberry, but Palm has certainly made the least of it.
Revenues are off by almost 50% from the same period last year, so Palm has an uphill fight. But the early results are in, and they show that Palm has a decent chance to make up some lost ground – especially with some much-needed juice from the CES show in Vegas this week.