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It's a good sign of a healthy bull market when stocks are able to overcome early setbacks to post gains for the day. That's what happened today, as an initially negative reaction to Wells Fargo's earnings report led to an early loss for stocks. Yet, over the course of the day, buying interest materialized, and the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) ended up finishing with a 17-point gain. Broader markets were flat to slightly higher.
Within the Dow, the big gainer was Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) , which climbed 1.4%. Despite reports that sales of PCs over the holiday season fell for the first time in more than five years, news that Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) has seen huge sales of its Windows-based Lumia smartphone have raised hopes that Microsoft's mobile operating system may not be doomed to the dead-on-arrival diagnosis that many analysts gave it early on. Moreover, with Lumia making up two-thirds of Nokia's smart-device sales for the quarter, the Microsoft-Nokia partnership appears likely to continue, at least if Nokia has anything to say about it. Nokia rose nearly 6%, adding to its 19% gain yesterday.
Outside the Dow, Splunk (NASDAQ: SPLK ) rose more than 8%, as investors and analysts speculated that the maker of Web-data analytical software might be a takeover target. With Dow member IBM having been pegged as a potential buyer, Splunk has already seen huge gains since its IPO last year. With a wide range of companies already targeting Big Data initiatives as major components of their growth strategies, IBM won't be the only interested party if Splunk remains successful.
Finally, in a sign of just how pessimistic investors had gotten, Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) soared 16%, despite posting a slight drop in holiday sales of 0.4% from the prior year. Internationally, the company's sales grew, offsetting domestic weakness, with same-store comps coming in down 1.4% overall. Despite Best Buy's dour results, investors hope that the relative stability will allow founder Richard Schulze to get the financing he needs to follow through on his offer to buy the company.
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