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TECH STOCKS: National Semi Gains Lead Tech Rally

By Rex Crum, MarketWatch SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Tech stocks rebounded to close higher Friday, with National Semiconductor Corp.and other chip stocks taking the spotlight and leading to gains across the sector. Earlier, the tech sector mirrored the broader market's uncertainty in the wake of an 8.9-magnitude earthquake that rattled Japan. National Semi (NSM) rose 54 cents, or almost 4%, to close at $14.70 after the chip maker's fourth-quarter revenue forecast fell in line with analysts' estimates. Late Thursday, National Semi said it expects quarterly sales of $360 million to $370 million, while analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast revenue of $367 million. That outlook was enough to inspire investors, even though National Semi also reported third-quarter earnings of 24 cents a share on $344 million in sales. The company's profit was in line with estimates, but its sales fell short of Wall Street's $352 million forecast. Other chip stocks on the rise included Micron Technology Inc. (MU), which rose 3.2%, and LSI Corp. (LSI), up 4.4%. Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN) and Xilinx Corp. (XLNX) also scored gains. The Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) rose more than 14 points to close at 2,715. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) added 1% by the time the market closed. Apple Inc. (AAPL) rose $5.32 a share to $351.99 as the company's new iPad 2 device went on sale. Clearwire Corp. (CLWR) managed to eke out a gain of a penny a share to close at $5.76. The wireless-network operator said Thursday that Chief Executive Bill Morrow and two other top executives resigned. Clearwire said Chairman John Stanton will replace Morrow on an interim basis, and promoted Chief Financial Officer Erik Prusch to chief operating officer.

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