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MARKET CLOSE: Tech stocks brush aside Microsoft ruling

A federal court ruling that Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is a monopoly gave the stock market an excuse to push tech issues higher Monday.

"Nobody cares about the Microsoft decision," said Scott Bleier, chief investment strategist at Prime Charter Ltd. "It's a far cry from hurting this company. Wall Street is viewing this as a buying opportunity."

The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 41.68 to 3,143.97, the S&P 500 increased 6.78 to 1,377.01, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average picked up 14.37 to 10,718.85. Inter@ctive Week's @100 Index moved up 50.36 to 5,393.77.

Microsoft recouped some of its earlier losses, though the software giant still closed down 1 5/8 to 89 15/16.

Stock buyers boosted some Microsoft rivals. Linux distributor Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT) jumped 18 1/16 to 104. OS vendor Be Inc. (Nasdaq: BEOS), which also announced plans make the BeOS Java-compatible, shot up 2 11/16 to 6 1/2. Unix and Java cheerleader Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW) rose 2 5/16 to 112 and software maker Oracle Corp (Nasdaq: ORCL) moved up 3/4 to 59 7/16. Corel (Nasdaq: CORL) increased 1 to 7 13/16.

Streaming media software provider RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK) advanced 4 to 139 after releasing the latest version of its flagship RealPlayer product.

Shareholders of FlashNet Communications (Nasdaq: FLAS) drove the stock down 1 9/16 to 8 7/16 after the company said it agreed to be acquired by Prodigy Communications (Nasdaq: PRGY) in a deal that values FlashNet at a lower price than Friday's close. Prodigy slid 2 1/8 to 22 5/8.

Complete Business Solutions (Nasdaq: CBSI), up 2 1/4 to 16 1/16, hit earnings estimates for its third quarter Monday, but warned net income will decline in the fourth quarter due to a Y2K-induced slowdown. Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSK), which advanced 3 1/2 to 44 3/8, also posted earnings.

Online grocer Peapod (Nasdaq: PPOD), which told government regulators it could face a cash crunch next year, went on the defensive Monday with a statement assuring investors that it had enough operating cash to make it through the third quarter of 2000. It didn't matter as shares fell 1 3/8 to 10 5/16.

Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) gained 13 1/16 to 78 after the company said it will make a significant e-tailing announcement on Tuesday. At Home rose (Nasdaq: ATHM) 5 9/16 to 44 3/4 as rumors of a deal with America Online (NYSE: AOL) ricocheted around message boards. AOL shares moved up 4 3/8 to 149 7/8.

Priceline.Com (Nasdaq: PCLN) picked up 9 1/8 to 61 3/4 after it announced a 3-yr, $18 million deal with Net2Phone (Nasdaq: NTOP), which fell 3/8 to 48 1/2.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) jumped 1 7/8 to 75 5/16 and Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) rose added 3 1/2 to 71 following an upgrade from Lehman Brothers that raised its rating to "buy" from "neutral."

Among other tech bellwethers, Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL) fell 5/8 to 40 1/8, Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) was down 1 1/16 to 20 13/16 and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) moved up 3 3/4 to 93 7/8. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) lost 1/4 to 82 1/8.>