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MARKET CLOSE: Dow, Nasdaq post strong gains

Technology stocks posted strong gains again Thursday as the Nasdaq composite hustled up 86 points to close at 2,768.42. Palatable earnings from bellwethers and the prospect of more interest-rate cuts later this month compelled investors to get back in the game.

The Dow Jones industrial average moved up 94 points to finish at 10,678.28.

“People are willing to look over the 'lack of earnings' valley because of the Fed,” said Paul Cherney, an analyst at S&P MarketScope. “The Fed has bolstered confidence that we will pull through this.”

Since the Fed’s surprise half-point cut in short-term interest rates earlier this month, the Nasdaq composite has gained more than 300 points despite watered down earnings and lowered expectations throughout the technology sector.

Shares of IBM (NYSE: IBM) surged $11.63 to $108.31 as investors cheered a solid fourth quarter report devoid of any nasty surprises. Analysts were generally upbeat about IBM's earnings, but a few remained cautious on concerns about weaker information technology spending.

Intel (INTC) moved up $1.69 to $32.19 and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) charged up $4.19 to $22.69.

Apple Computer (AAPL) rallied up $1.88 to $18.69 following its disappointing quarterly report. Gateway (GTW) moved up $2.15 to $22.38 while Dell (DELL) and Compaq (CPQ) closed up $1.50 and 52 cents a share, respectively.

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) was up 1.31 to 18.13 following its quarterly report, and news it will return to profitability.

Shares of software maker Vignette (Nasdaq: VIGN) fell $4.69 to $7.81 after the company said it plans to shut some offices and trim its work force by approximately 15 percent. The company is trying to reduce expenses as it looks toward lower earnings.

Microsoft (MSFT) moved up $2.69 to $55.63. Oracle (ORCL) tacked on 56 cents to $33.81 and Sun Microsystems (SUNW) gained $2.50 to $34.88.

Check Point Software Technologies (Nasdaq: CHKP) jumped $11.63 to $138.19 after it reported a strong fourth quarter with earnings that topped estimates by 8 cents a share. The Internet security firm also announced a stock split.

Shares of Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT) rose $1.06 to $14.19 after the company fell short of earnings and revenue estimates for its third quarter.

Efficient Networks (Nasdaq: EFNT) slid 92 cents to $13.52 after it posted a smaller than expected loss for its second quarter, beating reduced analyst numbers, but revenue fell short of estimates.

Redback Networks (RBAK), which topped analysts’ estimates, and Extreme Networks (EXTR), which met estimates, fell $7.69 and $5.38 a share, respectively.

Yahoo (YHOO) jumped $4.19 to $34.44. America Online (AOL) picked up 97 cents to $49.76 while Amazon.com (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY) closed up $1.13 and $3.63 a share, respectively.

NBC Internet Inc. (Nasdaq: NBCI) said on Thursday it will slash its work force by 30 percent as the result of a revenue shortfall due to a softer advertising market, the latest online media company to cut jobs in a sector struggling to turn a profit. The stock fell 19 cents to $4.