Closing Out a Big Quarter in Style

The U.S. economy is showing signs of stalling. Too many people remain out of work and weekly filings for jobless benefits came in hotter than expected Thursday as 359,000 claims were filed last week.

While GDP for the end of last year advanced at a solid 3% pace, many economists warn there's been a marked slowdown this quarter, as evidenced by recent housing and manufacturing reports.

On Thursday, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 extended their losses into the third day, but the Dow Industrials rose 19 points after a late-session rally.  Stocks are still higher for the week, and are pointing higher this Friday morning, as well.  Dow future are indicating a 50-point gain at the open.

Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) shares are down 2.6% in the pre-market.  The Blackberry maker reported softer-than-expected results in the fourth quarter, and sold only 11 million Blackberries – 25% fewer than the year before.

RIM’s new CEO, Thorsten Heins, mentioned on the company’s conference call last night that  he’s focusing on wooing back its corporate customers, since many consumers are finding more familiarity with fancier touch-screen smartphones, like Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone.  Heins also mentioned that he’d even consider a sale of the company.

RIM shares have lost about 75% of their value in the past year.

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is also struggling; in its all-important holiday quarter, the electronics giant lost $1.7 billion, and now it’s planning to close 50 of its 1400 stores and lay off 400 workers in a bid to save $800 million.

One of the problems Best Buy is facing is customers flocking to the Internet to buy gadgets. Over the holidays, Best Buy tried to compete with the likes of (NASDAQ:AMZN) by offering free shipping and matching lower competitors’ prices. Best Buy shares lost 7% yesterday, and are flat this morning in the pre-market.