* Apple's stock up 2 pct on day after worst drop since 2008
* Apple's rank drops to No. 6 in China's smartphone market
* Sirius sets long-awaited stock buyback and dividend
* Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P 500 up 0.2 pct, Nasdaq up 0.7 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 6 U.S. stocks managed slight gains
by midday on Thursday as Broadcom's upbeat guidance and a
turnaround in Apple shares helped lift technology stocks, while
investors monitored news from Washington for signs of progress
on the "fiscal cliff" negotiations.
Apple erased initial losses of as much as 3.7 percent at the
open, which briefly brought the market capitalization of the
world's largest publicly traded company below $500 billion. By
midday, Apple's stock was up 2.3 percent at $551.35 - a day
after its worst drop in four years.
Tech stocks also got a lift from chipmaker Broadcom
, up 2.2 percent at $33.06 a day after it forecast
fourth-quarter revenue at the high end of its target range,
citing slightly better-than-expected sales in its mobile
The S&P technology index gained 1 percent and ranked
as the best performer among the S&P 500's 10 major sectors. The
PHLX semiconductor index rose 0.9 percent.
But budget discussions commanded center stage for investors.
President Barack Obama said there could be a quick deal to avert
the "fiscal cliff" - huge tax hikes and spending cuts set to
begin in January, possibly driving the U.S. economy back into
recession next year - if Republican leaders agree to raise tax
rates for those making more than $250,000 a year.
While Republican leaders in the U.S. House of
Representatives insist that raising tax rates on the rich is not
negotiable, some GOP lawmakers now see it as inevitable to avoid
the fiscal cliff.
"It's really being held hostage to (the fiscal cliff
negotiations) and the stock action of Apple," said Bruce Zaro,
chief technical strategist at Delta Global Asset Management in
"We're back in the mode of there's a direct correlation
between the market and Apple - traders seems to be focused on
the movement of Apple, and what its impact is on the indices."
Without action from Congress in the next few weeks, tax cuts
on capital gains and dividends will expire at the end of 2012.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 8.64 points,
or 0.07 percent, to 13,043.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
added 2.66 points, or 0.19 percent, to 1,411.94. The
Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 19.82 points, or 0.67
percent, to 2,993.52.
Apple Inc's rank in China's smartphone market fell
to No.6 in the third quarter as it faces tougher competition
from Chinese brands, research firm IDC said on Thursday. Apple's
6.4 percent drop on Wednesday was its worst daily performance
since December 2008 and dragged the Nasdaq Composite Index down
0.8 percent for the day.
Sirius XM Radio shares rose 1.8 percent to $2.83
after its board approved a $2 billion stock repurchase and
declared a special dividend, giving a big payout to its largest
shareholder, Liberty Media.
Garmin shares rose 4.7 percent to $41.56 after
Standard & Poor's said it would add the navigation device maker
to the S&P 500 index. Garmin will replace R.R. Donnelley & Sons
after the close of trading on Dec. 11.