- Associated Press - Friday, October 12, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Shares of Workday rocketed higher Friday in their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Trading under the “WDAY” symbol, the stock climbed $20.69, or 74 percent, to close at $48.69. That’s the fifth-biggest percentage gain on the first day of trading for any IPO this year, and the largest jump since software maker Splunk Inc.’s April debut.

Workday Inc. raised $637 million in its initial public stock offering, selling 22.8 million shares for $28 each. That signaled strong demand from investors, since the company expected that shares would price from $24 to $26 per share.

Workday’s software helps companies keep track of payroll and other human resources functions. It competes with giant corporations in enterprise software like Oracle Corp. and SAP AG. Workday’s applications are accessible over the Internet, so companies do not have to upgrade software residing on their own computers as improvements roll out. This kind of software is kept on computers outside a company’s offices and accessed online. Called “cloud computing,” it is becoming more popular with business customers.

Proceeds from the IPO will go toward general business purposes and possibly acquisitions, the Pleasanton, Calif., company said.

While a string of technology IPOs last year and earlier this year revved up the IPO market, the flop of Facebook Inc.’s debut in May and growing uncertainty about the world economy had weighed on deals this summer. In the fourth quarter, however, IPOs seem to have become more attractive for investors.

There were nine deals this week, seven of which closed Friday above their IPO price.

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