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MARKET CLOSE: Cisco leads tech stocks higher

Technology stocks, led by chip and PC issues, rallied again Wednesday, pushing the Nasdaq composite up 31 points to another record close of 3,155.99. The Dow Jones industrial average closed off 20 points to 10,597.74.

The October Producer Price Index, which measures inflation at the wholesale level, fell 0.1 percent but a slight rise in the core rate sparked worries of an interest-rate increase. The core rate, which excludes volatile food and energy prices rose 0.3 percent, reflecting an increase in car prices, according to the report released by the Labor Department.

"There was a little concern this morning when the PPI came out, but when the markets held, you had some buyers come in," said James Volk, the co-director of institutional trading at D.A. Davidson and Co. "People got a little courage here. These markets have pretty good tone to them.''

Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) led the Nasdaq rally, closing up 5 1/4 to 79 1/2 after posting a stellar first-quarter earnings report. The company was also optimistic about its outlook for future quarters. SG Cowen and Banc of America raised their price targets on Cisco to $90 from $80.

Lucent Technologies Inc. (LU) closed up 1 7/16 to 74 7/16 and 3Com Corp. (COMS) added 1 9/16 to finish at 33 1/16.

A trio of initial public offerings took off Wednesday, led by United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) which stormed up 17 1/4 to 67 1/4.

Microsoft's Expedia Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPE) shot up 39 7/16 to 53 7/16 in its debut and had yet to debut its 5.2 million shares at $14 apiece.

Next Level Communications Inc. (NXTV) gained 30 3/4 to 50 3/4 in its initial public offering.

Avid Technology (AVID) picked up 1/2 to 12 after it announced a restructuring plan Wednesday which will result in a charge around $9 million as the company refocuses its ailing business on the Internet.

Convergent Communications Inc. (CONV) fell 1 13/16 to 11 15/16 after missing third quarter estimates by a nickel. The company lost $1.06 a share.

America Online Inc. (AOL) lost 1 to 145. Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) moved up 3 1/8 to 197 11/16 while Excite@Home Corp. (ATHM) and Infoseek Corp. (SEEK) fell 1 13/16 and 1/4 a share, respectively.

In its latest move beyond simple online retailing, leading Internet merchant Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) has allied with Web-based credit card issuer NextCard Inc. (Nasdaq: NXCD). NextCard shares charged up 9 3/8 to 41 and Amazon.com rose 1 5/16 to 72 1/8.

Intel Corp. (INTC) chopped off 1 1/16 to 79. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) tacked on 1 9/16 to 22 5/8 and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) moved up 3 3/8 to 97.

Among widely held PC stocks, Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) gained 7/8 to 41 7/16; Gateway Inc. (GTW) soared up 4 1/16 to 76 1/16; Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) rose 1 13/16 to 91 7/16 and Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) closed up 1 1/8 to 21 7/8.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) lopped off 1 3/4 to 87 1/8. Oracle Corp. (ORCL) gained 7/16 to 58 7/8 and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) closed up 7/8 to 113 3/16.

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