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MARKET CLOSE: Dow, Nasdaq ride employment news to huge gains

Better-than-expected employment and payroll figures from the Labor Department sent stocks skyward Friday as the Nasdaq shot up 108 points to 2,842.58, a record single-day gain. The Dow rocketed up 235 points to end at 11,078.45.

The U.S. Labor Department reported on Friday morning that nonfarm payrolls employment increased by 124,000 in August with the unemployment rate falling to 4.2 percent and wages rising 0.2 percent.

"It appears these numbers are a preliminary, solid sign the economy may be in the process of slowing. That is precisely what the credit markets wanted and what the Fed wanted," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp.

Economists polled by Reuters, on average, expected 220,000 new jobs in August, with a 0.4 percent increase in average hourly wages. The unemployment rate matched expectations.

"It's very, very impressive and we're getting a fresh wave of buying right now," said Trude Latimer, an independent stock broker in Charlottesville, Va. "It's spreading out beautifully."

Semiconductor stocks went nuts again Friday led by Intel Corp. (INTC) which closed up 4 to 89 5/16. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) gained 1 3/16 to 21 and National Semiconductor Corp. (NSM) moved up 1 3/8 to 30 1/2. Xilinx Inc. (XLNX) picked up 4 to 74 3/4 and LSI Logic Corp. (LSI) closed up 1 15/16 to finish at 18 13/16.

Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) tacked on 1 3/4 to 49 7/16. Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) rose 1/4 to 23 5/16 while Gateway Inc. (GTW) and Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) picked up 1 3/4 and 2 15/16 a share, respectively.

Sterling Software Inc. (SSW) lost 1/8 to 20 after warning that its fourth quarter earnings will be lower than expected. To cushion the blow, the company said it would buy back 5 million shares.

Network services provider Digital Link Corp. (DLNK) rocketed up 1 11/16 to 9 7/8 after it said it had agreed to merge with closely held DLZ Corp.

The world's top maker of computer disk-drives, Seagate Technology Inc. (SEG) jumped 1 3/4 to 35 _ after saying it would revamp its software unit and acquire all shares in the subsidiary that it does not already own.

Internet stocks were strong, too.

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) stormed up 13 7/16 to 155. America Online Inc. (AOL) picked up 5 11/16 to 96 15/16 and Infoseek Corp. (SEEK) rose 2 1/8 to 31. Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) nudged up 2 1/4 to 62 7/16 and Lycos Inc. (LCOS) finished up 3 5/8 to 44 3/4.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) closed up 3 15/16 to 95 3/4 while Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) jogged up 3 1/16 and 4 15/16 a share, respectively.

Log On America Inc. (LOAX), rose 2 1/4 to 23 1/8 after reports a U.S. telecom company is likely to invest into Internet service provider a company whose stock price has been hit recently along with other tech-sector firms.

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