Today: After declining for the sixth time in seven sessions, Apple (AAPL) finally turns around, helping indexes avoid further losses. Also: LinkedIn looks to become more like Twitter and Facebook, while Facebook looks for more openness.
Apple rebounds late in session, dragging indexes to slight gains
Apple was declining for the sixth time in seven sessions Tuesday, but after the stock fell below the 50-day moving average -- a widely watched technical level on Wall Street -- it bounced higher and helped the market close mostly positive on the day.
The Cupertino company's stock has suffered since the launch of its newest popular mobile gadget, the iPhone 5, falling five of the past six sessions. The share price dipped again Tuesday, falling as low as $650.65 just after noon Pacific time, before rebounding in the final hour of the session to finish with a 0.3 percent gain at $661.31.
The turnaround was likely due to Apple's dip below the 50-day moving average, a short-term technical level that continuously averages the closing price in the previous 50 days; Apple's 50-day moving average for Tuesday's session was $651.75, and trading volume and the stock price picked up after dipping below that level.
The swift turnaround from 1.3 percent lower to 0.3 percent higher in the last hour of the session helped drag the major U.S. stock indexes that include Apple to a gain as well; with Apple's strength as the world's most valuable company, the Nasdaq and Standard & Poor's 500 can be overwhelmingly guided by the tech company's stock. The Dow Jones industrial average, the only major U.S. stock index that doesn't include Apple, was the only one to drop Tuesday.
"Apple is such a big part of the market and it's been on a downtrend for a couple of days, so it makes sense for the stock to get some relief and rebound, which would translate into the indexes," NorthCoast Asset Management fund manager Frank Ingarra told Bloomberg News.
Other tech stocks moved slightly higher as investors "found some good entry points in technology stocks," Ingarra said -- both the Nasdaq and SV150 indexes increased 0.2 percent.
Foster City-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead kept riding the wave of recent positive analyst reports to a new all-time high of $69.49 and passed Mastercard in market capitalization after closing with a 2.6 percent increase at $69.18. Recently public IT security company Palo Alto Networks increased 2.3 percent to $62 after JMP Securities initiated analyst coverage of the company with an "outperform" rating and $77 price target.
Google's (GOOG) strong run that pushed it to a milestone Monday came to an end, as the Mountain View search giant dipped 0.6 percent while its Motorola Mobility unit canceled a patent complaint against Apple. Juniper Networks dipped 0.2 percent after confirming 500 layoffs, and larger competitor Cisco (CSCO) dropped 0.2 percent despite an upgrade by MKM Partners analyst Michael Genovese.
LinkedIn looks to challenge social rivals with ability to 'follow'
LinkedIn made a move Tuesday to counter the daily-engagement popularity of rival social networks like Twitter and Facebook, announcing the ability to "follow" important members of the professional-networking site.
The move allows users to see important updates and messages from public figures like President Barack Obama and his election rival, Mitt Romney. Important business figures are prominent on the first list of what the Mountain View company calls "influencers," allowing members to access their musings without establishing a mutual connection.
LinkedIn has been experimenting with ways to get more daily interaction from its millions of users, previously introducing a curated news offering called "LinkedIn Today." With Tuesday's move, which included an odd bit of advertising, LinkedIn offers similar functionality to Twitter -- which cut off easy interactions through LinkedIn earlier this year -- Facebook and Google+.
"If the news section and the addition of the influencers pans out the way LinkedIn envisions, people will have more reasons to check into the website more frequently and perhaps stick around longer. That, in turn, would help LinkedIn sell more advertising," The Associated Press reported.
LinkedIn stock gained 0.7 percent Tuesday to close at $118.77.
Facebook stays in the news with update to Help Center, Sandberg talk
Facebook continued to push itself into the public eye Tuesday, announcing a redesigned help center while Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg conducted her second interview in two days after staying on the sidelines since the company's initial public offering.
After Monday's announcement of new advertising tactics that cheered investors but concerned privacy advocates, the Menlo Park social-networking service made changes Tuesday to a more consumer-centric part of its website, the Help Center. The company has redesigned the offering to offer more and better-organized information on its services to its nearly 1 billion users.
Meanwhile, Sandberg spoke with interviewer Charlie Rose at a New York conference, maintaining her focus on Facebook's advertising platform and its efficacy. "We think Facebook and social media represent that next phase of online media advertising opportunity, and it's very much in its infancy," she told Rose.
Facebook gained 1.3 percent to $22.27, its third consecutive session in the black.
Silicon Valley tech stocks
Up: SunPower (SPWRA), Gilead, Electronic Arts (ERTS), Palo Alto Networks, Telsa, VMware, Facebook, Zynga, Symantec, Intuit (INTU), Netflix (NFLX), Yahoo (YHOO), LinkedIn, Nvidia, Applied Materials, Intel (INTC), eBay (EBAY), Apple
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 6.51, or 0.21 percent, to 3,120.04
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 32.75, or 0.24 percent, to 13,482.36
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 1.26, or 0.09 percent, to 1,445.75
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.