Technology stocks led Wall Street higher on Friday after Oracle's upbeat outlook, putting all three major stock indexes on track to end the week in positive territory after two weeks of declines.
Oracle Corp shares rose 3.6 percent to $33.30 after at least 12 brokerages raised their price targets on the stock. The business software maker forecast a rise in new software sales in its fiscal fourth quarter, fueling hopes a global resurgence in technology spending remained intact.
In a further boost to techs, Accenture rose 5.5 percent to $54.82 after the technology outsourcing and consulting company raised its outlook.
But BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd said earnings would slip as it spends heavily to launch its PlayBook tablet. The stock fell 10.2 percent to $57.50.
The S&P technology index <.GSPT> rose 0.5 percent on Friday, and is up 3.5 percent so far this quarter.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 55.36 points, or 0.45 percent, at 12,225.92. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 5.05 points, or 0.39 percent, at 1,314.71. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 14.47 points, or 0.53 percent, at 2,750.89.
Still, analysts were concerned that the next earnings period that starts in April could put the brakes on stocks.
With about two weeks to go before the first quarter earnings releases begin and notwithstanding these good reports (from Oracle and Accenture), the market has to prepare for what I believe will be a more challenging quarter relative to expectations on the margin side, said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak + Co in New York.
He said Oracle and Accenture were somewhat immune to the rise in commodity prices, adding that with corporate profit margins at near-record highs, there was little room for error.
He also was watching for business disruptions from the Japanese disaster.
The U.S. economy grew more quickly than previously estimated in the fourth quarter as businesses restocked shelves to meet rising demand, while consumer sentiment fell to its lowest level in more than a year in March.