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MIDDAY MARKETS: Techs swept up in post-PPI party

Techs got lucky at midday Friday, as investors swept them up in the heat of a positive PPI report, ignoring the threat of interest rate rises ahead. The Nasdaq was carried up 69.86 to 2619.35, or almost 3 percent, and the Dow Jones industrial average climbed up 150.39 to 10939.78.

Inter@ctive Week's @Net Index rose 10.11 to 273.91.

U.S. stock, bond and currency markets all picked up following news that inflation at the producer level remains tame. The producer price index rose only modestly, according to the report from the Labor Department, which said it gained 0.2 percent in July after falling 0.1 percent in June. Though the report sends out signals that inflation is benign despite the strong economy, consensus on the street seems to be that another quarter point raise on August 24 is a sure thing.

Quest Software (Nasdaq: QSFT) found footing on the unstable IPO market, gaining 9 3/16 to 23 3/16, or 66 percent.

Active Software (Nasdaq: ASWX) which will debut 3.5 million shares priced at $11, had yet to see action.

Among stocks in the news today, Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU), up 1 15/16 to 65 11/16, said it has agreed to buy Xedia Corporation, a privately held developer of Internet access routers for wide area networks, in a deal valued at $246 million. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) gained 1 1/4 to 62 15/16 and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) gained 3/4 to 23 13/16.

Merrill Lynch said chips were looking good, prompting Xilinx Inc. (Nasdaq: XLNX) to saunter up 3 11/16 to 71 1/16, Altera Corp. (Nasdaq: ALTR) to climb 2 3/16 to 41 13/16, and Lattice Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: LSCC) to shimmy up 2 1/4 to 67 13/16.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) was the most active gainer, rising 2 1/4 to 84. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) grew 2 1/2 to 78 7/16, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) added 5/16 to 18 13/16.

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) gained 2 1/16 to 123 3/16, Gateway Inc. (NYSE: GTW) fell 11/16 to 81 13/16, Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) added 1 to 41 1/4, and Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE: CPQ) gained 1/2 to 23 1/4. Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) also moved up 1 15/16 to 61 15/16.

Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) cheered up 5 to 133 3/8, while Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) climbed 4 3/4 to 96 1/2, and America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) grew 3 15/16 to 96 11/16. Other Net notables included: Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq: LCOS), up 2 3/8 to 37 3/8, Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK), up 1 9/16 to 31 1/8, Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM), inched down 3/16 to 38 7/8, and Mindspring (Nasdaq: MSPG) went ahead 1 7/16 to 28 3/16. CMGi Inc. (Nasdaq: CMGI) advanced 5 5/8 to 82 9/16.

Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) sauntered up 2 to 37 1/2, AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) added 9/16 to 49, and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) gained 3 1/16 to 73 1/8.