Kind of a quiet day on Wall Street, with traders wondering if Bank of America's less-than-expected Q1 forecast was a bump on the road to a bull market or a legitimate roadblock.
With the market off 35 points in Monday trading (as of 3 PM EST), after rising four percent last week on big earnings reports from Google and IBM, among others, I'd say that it's more of investors taking a breather today. This in anticipation of some big economic numbers coming up this week and a new Federal Reserve meeting where Bernanke & Co. weigh another cut in interest rates.
One story I've been following is China - news from the Pacific Tiger that the nation's economy grew by 8% last year was completely unreported by the U.S. media. What global recession? One story on Yahoo Finance today talked up the Chinese consumers' growing appetite for SUV's and other big-ticket items. Consequently, if Bank of America drops a few bucks in Monday trading, I know of 800 million Chinese folks who don't seem to care.
In the technology market, I know of two companies that really do care about China - a lot. Both Novell Inc. and Microsoft Corp., came out with news this weekend that they plan to push a larger priority on the Chinese market.
Specifically, as reported by The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, both tech giants are plowing money into promoting Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server operating system in the China commercial marketplace. A market gap exists, says The Post, with many Chinese companies who use Linux for free without any software support.
Says the newspaper: "China is "quite a large and growing market in terms of Linux," Susan Heystee, a Novell vice president. There is "a very large nonpaid Linux market" in China, she said, but many of those companies are now looking for support for mission-critical systems and for virtualization, setups where multiple operating systems can run on one piece of hardware."
Already, the marketing effort seems to be paying some early dividends. In a statement from both companies last Friday, People's Insurance Co. of China, Dawning Information Industry Co. and The Dairy Farm Co. will all receive certificates from Microsoft for three years of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server support from Novell.
The stakes are high and the opportunity is certainly there. China accounts for roughly 20% of the world's population (in comparison, the US accounts for 5%) but it corners only 1.5% of the worldwide software market.
That's a lot of room for growth - and Microsoft and Novell know it.