Tumbling networking equipment stocks and a mixed batch of earnings had the Nasdaq struggling to stay above the 2,000 mark at midday. The tech-heavy index edged up 7.41 points to 2,024.02.
Meanwhile, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 34.75 points to 10,489.09, and the Inter@ctive Week @Net Index was unchanged at 186.79.
In economic news, orders for big-ticket manufactured items jumped sharply in March, but the strength was confined to transportation-related goods. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that durable goods orders rose 3 percent to $205.12 billion in the month, their largest gain since November of last year.
Data on new U.S. homes also indicated the economy wasn't doing too badly. Sales rose to a record rate in March, the government said Wednesday in a report suggesting the housing market is holding up well.
UBS Warburg analyst Nikos Theodosopoulos downgraded several networking equipment stocks Wednesday, saying U.S. telecom companies would continue to cut back on spending in 2001.
Companies that fell after he cut them from "buy" to "hold" were ADC Telecommunications (Nasdaq: ADCT), down 16 cents to $7.50, Avici (Nasdaq: AVCI), down 72 cents to $10.65, Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), down 39 cents to $15.87, Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN), off $1.09 to $55.58, Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR), down $2.03 to $54.70, Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT), up 6 cents to $15.56, and Tellabs (Nasdaq: TLAB) , down 87 cents to $32.22.
The appointment of a new CFO couldn't do much for PurchasePro (Nasdaq: PPRO). Its shares fell $1.94 to $4.28 after an 11th-hour profit warning quashed high hopes for the first quarter.
BMC Software (NYSE: BMC) shares fell $6.24 to $20.91 following its fourth-quarter earnings report. Though the company topped estimates, it lowered its outlook for the first quarter and full year.
Online news site MarketWatch.com (Nasdaq: MKTW), up 26 cents to $3.00, posted a smaller-than-expected loss for the first quarter, but its revenue slipped along with demand for advertising.
Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) fell 53 cents to $15.15 after topping estimates in its first quarter. AOL Time Warner (NYSE: AOL) rose 24 cents to $47.49, and Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) gained 52 cents to $18.53.
Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) fell 49 cents to $28.65, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) rose 89 cents to $68.44 and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) gained 23 cents to $17.20.
ZDII staff and Reuters contributed to this roundup.