Today: After a rough week following a third Model S fire, Tesla shares recover as battery-maker and the driver in the latest incident defend the company. Also, Yahoo (YHOO) rides Alibaba's coattails to gains after huge shopping day in China.

Panasonic, Model S driver defend Tesla after fires

After getting battered around last week following the third Model S fire in the past six weeks, shares in Tesla Motors (TSLA) rebounded almost 5 percent Monday after both the car's battery maker and the driver involved in the latest incident defended the company.

The Palo Alto electric car-maker has been plagued by trio of accidents since Oct. 1 in which the Model S's electric battery compartment was punctured by road debris, starting fires in the vehicles. Last week Center for Auto Safety executive director Clarence Ditlow urged a federal investigation into the safety of Tesla vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has Friday said it is "in close communication with Tesla and local authorities gathering information about the incident to determine if additional action is necessary.


Advertisement

" Earlier this year, the Model S received the highest crash-test rating ever by federal regulators.

On Friday, Panasonic, the company that makes the Model S's lithium-ion batteries, expressed its support in Tesla. "We pay great attention to safety issues and so does Tesla," Panasonic CFO Hideaki Kawai told Bloomberg News. "I don't have any concerns."

On Saturday, Tesla posted an open letter from Juris Shibayama of Tennessee, the owner of the car involved in the most recent Model S fire, on its blog. He described the circumstances of the accident and praised the car's response. "Had I not been in a Tesla, that object could have punched through the floor and caused me serious harm," he wrote. "I would buy another one in a heartbeat."

Perhaps reassured, investors Monday helped Tesla gain $6.75, or 4.89 percent, to close at $144.70. Still, shares are down more than 25 percent since hitting an all-time high of $194.50 on Sept. 30. That's still just a blip over the long term though -- Tesla has been one of the Nasdaq's best-performing stocks of 2013, up more than 300 percent since the start of the year.

SV150 market report: Alibaba boosts Yahoo

The markets barely moved Monday as the country marked Veterans Day, with the three major indexes closing with slight gains. Tech stocks dipped a bit though, with a slim loss for the tech-heavy SV150 index.

Among Silicon Valley companies, Yahoo shares jumped more than 2 percent -- and the Sunnyvale Internet giant didn't even have to do anything. The gain was credited to its 24 percent ownership stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which posted huge sales Monday for Singles Day, a Chinese gift-giving holiday that's sort of a combination of Valentine's Day and post-Thanksgiving shopping in America. China-based Alibaba, which is planning an upcoming IPO in the U.S., reported about $5.8 billion in single-day sales Monday. By comparison, U.S. shoppers spent about $1.5 billion on Cyber Monday last November.

Netflix (NFLX), the Los Gatos-based video-on-demand leader, gained $3.01, or 0.9 percent, after a report found it and YouTube accounted for about half of all North American Internet traffic. Google (GOOG), which owns YouTube, didn't recieve a similar bump, declining $5.44, or 0.54 percent. Facebook lost $1.33, or 2.8 percent after an SEC filing Friday revealed that Marc Andreessen's venture capital form has sold a third of its shares in the Menlo Park social network. Menlo Park-based Andreessen Horowitz sold 2.28 million shares in Facebook for around $49-$50 a share last Wednesday, Reuters reported. Facebook hit its all-time high of $54.83 a share in October. And Apple (AAPL) declined $1.51, or 0.29 percent, on the eve of its damages retrial against Samsung in San Jose federal court. The six-day trial is set to start Tuesday, to decide how much Samsung must pay the Cupertino tech giant for infringing on Apple patents and trademarks.

Silicon Valley tech stocks

Up: Oracle (ORCL), Intel (INTC), HP, Gilead, VMware, Yahoo, Netflix, Tesla

Down: Apple, Google, Cisco (CSCO), eBay (EBAY), Juniper, Zynga, Facebook, LinkedIn

The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's biggest companies: Down 0.98, or 0.07 percent, to 1,399.62

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 0.56 , or 0.01 percent, to 3,919.79.

The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 21.32 or 0.14 percent, to 15,783.10.

And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 1.28, or 0.07 percent, to 1,771.89

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. Follow Mike Murphy at Twitter.com/mmmmurf.